Updated Sept. 25, 12:31 p.m.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s more than 21 hour, overnight talk-a-thon against Obamacare had its share of memorable moments from the bizarre to the cringe-worthy.
The Tea Party favored Texas senator had vowed to speak in support of defunding Obamacare “until I am no longer able to stand“–and beginning Tuesday afternoon at 2:41 p.m. EST he did just that, quoting “words of wisdom” from Duck Dynasty to Darth Vader impressions. Cruz’s full day faux-filibuster (to a virtually empty Senate chamber) ended around noon Wednesday. The Senate was expected to decide shortly to move ahead with a vote on the House spending bill that strips funding from Obamacare. The Democrat-controlled Senate will likely send back a new version of the spending bill to the House, setting up the possibility of a government shutdown if the two sides can’t find a compromise before the budget year ends, Sept. 30.
While Cruz’s overnight tirade against the Affordable Care Act was pointless in terms of effecting Senate outcome, it did get Washington talking. Here are 11 of the most talked about moments in what was dubbed “#tedtalks” by the Twitterverse.
Green Eggs and Ham
Cruz said that his father “invented” green eggs and ham. Bringing the “Green Eggs and Ham” story full circle, Ted Cruz read the Dr. Seuss book to his two daughters as a bedtime story. (He also read a Bible story.) Cruz linked the famous Dr. Seuss story to Obamacare: “Americans tried it, they did not like it…with a fox, in a box, in a house, or with a mouse.” In fact, the popular story is about trying something you thought you wouldn’t like and, in the end, liking it.
“One of my favorite children’s stories, actually from when I was a kid, was ‘The Little Engine That Could.’ The Little Engine That Could, the train going up that said over and over again, ‘I think I can, I think I can. I think I can.’ You know, if you listen to a lot of the members of this body, the message would be simple: that little engine can’t.”
Nazis, Cold War, and revolutionaries
Cruz likened the uphill battle against Obamacare to other unlikely triumphs throughout history, like leaders who stood against the Nazis, put a man on the moon, ended the Cold War, or started the American Revolution. “If you go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany…look, we saw Britain, Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, ‘accept the Nazis. Yes, they’ll dominate the continent of Europe but that’s not our problem. Let’s appease them. Why? Because it can’t be done. We can’t possibly stand against them.”
“I like their little burgers…I’m a big fan of eating White Castle burgers.”
“I do feel this is a confession of sorts,” Cruz said of his decision to wear comfortable black tennis shoes over his typical “argument boots” on the Senate floor. “I will embarrassingly admit that I took the coward’s way out.”
Cruz gave a shout-out to Ashton Kutcher, praising the actor’s Teen Choice Awards speech earlier this year and supporting his message of hard work. “It was a great message to young people,” Cruz said. “I don’t know Mr. Kutcher. I’ve watched his TV shows and his movies. I don’t know him personally, but you know what? He can speak to millions of young people who…would never listen to me.”
Great American anthems
Around 2 a.m. Cruz mentioned and spoke the lyrics of Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue.” While he did not sing, he did censor when he came to the point in the song that says “’cause we’ll put a boot in your – posterior.”
The new ‘Lost Generation’
Cruz blamed Obamacare for creating a new “lost generation” of young people who cannot find jobs and are instead moving home with their parents.
“I want to point out some words of wisdom from Duck Dynasty,” Cruz said in the early hours of the morning. He then pointed out “Redneck rule number one: most things can be fixed with duct tape and extension cords,” as well as some other words to live by from the DD cast of the popular A&E series.
Star Wars…and a little guy named Darth Vader
“That phrase of ‘rebellion against oppression’ reminded me of the rebel alliance fighting against The Empire – The Empire being the Washington, D.C. establishment. And upon hearing that phrase I wondered if at some point we were going to see a tall gentleman, in a mechanical breathing apparatus, come forward and say in a deep voice, ‘Mike Lee, I am your father.’” Cruz did that last part in his best Darth Vader voice.
Arguing over the rulebook
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid joined Cruz on the floor just before his time expired before lunch, engaging in a spirited debate over rules of the Senate floor. As soon as Cruz’s time expired, Reid addressed the chamber: “I’m not sure we learned anything new…but it’s been interesting to watch.” Then, calling the faux-filibuster what it was: “It’s been a big waste of time.”
Reporting contributed by NBC’s Kasie Hunt and Kelly O’Donnell