Skip to content Skip to footer

William Rivers Pitt | It Only Hurts When I Laugh

William Rivers Pitt: “It should be safe to treat people like Ted Cruz and Ted Yoho as walking absurdities. I want to laugh. I really do. Doing so, however, is not at all safe…”

Ted Cruz speaking at the 2012 Liberty Political Action Conference in Chantilly, Virginia. (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

No one has recently said to me, “You can only get so angry,” and escaped with their hide intact, probably because I tend to spend my time with people who know better, and the people who know me know better than to try and tell me I’m making too much of things in this diseased day and age, when “things” make plenty of themselves without my help.

Sometimes, however, you just have to laugh. It’s either that or firebombing.

Case in point:

There is currently in print a Ted Cruz coloring book for children. This is the cover. It is called “Cruz To The Future,” and that cover has birds and bushes and soon-to-be-extinct monarch butterflies…and Ted, with a blue suit and a porn-clown smile, shooting a Double Fonzie at a tree.

Oh, the tree. Dear God and Sonny Jesus, the fa-chrissakes tree.

The roots spell out “ROOTS,” but look suspiciously like the Flying Spaghetti Monster (bless His noodly appendage). Then there’s grass, a fact given away by the large “GRASS” etched in the grass – get it? “Grass”…”Roots”…so clever – before we move up the trunk (labeled “TEA PLANT”) which eventually bifurcates into two separate branches.

This is all very deep. I hope you’re keeping up.

The main branch, which is branded with the legend “U.S. CONSTITUTION,” leads to several leaves with labels on them. “Opportunity” and “Diversity” are two leaves, “Freedom” and “Inclusion” are two others…but then we reach higher to find a leaf that reads “Lower Taxes,” and one other, the highest of them all, that reads, “White House.” Which is hilarious, if you think about it.

Wait, sorry, I said, “think.”

The other branch is branded with the legend, “TEN COMMANDMENTS.” There are but two leaves sprouting from this branch: “Free Enterprise,” and above it, “Gun Rights.” Take a second and come to grips with that little slice of psychotic Christian Dominionist nonsense.

Yeah, that happened.

And that’s just the cover. The guts of the nuts could inspire a statue to look sideways and blink:

* Ted Cruz Is A Man Of Great Virility And Stamina: Many “career establishment politicians are far too out of shape, old or overweight to even perform such a magnificent feat” as standing on the Senate floor and talking for over 21 hours. But not Ted Cruz!

* Ted Cruz Can See The Future: Cruz spoke with “clairvoyant precision” about the “quickly approaching Obama Care disaster.”

* Cruz Is The Constitution’s Guardian: Ted Cruz is a “passionate fighter for limited government, economic growth, and the Constitution.”

* Providing Health Care To People Who Can’t Afford It Is Worse Than War: Cruz’s failed stand against the Affordable Care Act “was so important because millions of citizens believe Obama Care is worse than any war. At least American soldiers have weapons with which to defend themselves.”

Upon encountering this reality, my brain slithered out of my left ear, crawled into the bathroom, and wept piteously for hours with its face pressed into the cold porcelain truth of the toilet base. I don’t blame it, and am frankly glad it left for a while; had it stayed, that would have been me on the bathroom floor, wailing into the o-ring about the burdens of the age.

You can only get so angry, and then someone comes up with a Ted Cruz coloring book. Call it God’s own little valve release: all the steam hisses out in a gale of bewildered hilarity, and you die a little inside.

Until you find out that Ted Yoho, the GOP House Rep. from Florida, has scheduled plans to host a gun training event on December 14th, the anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, and then all the funny goes out of you like the whole wide world just punched you in the gut.

Twenty children slaughtered. Twenty-six people dead in total. You can listen to the 911 calls if you’re of a mind, because they’re out there now. There are few days in our history that we as a nation have suffered that were worse day than December 14, 2012…but hey, let’s have gun fun with an elected official on the one-year marker of that day. A Yoho spokesman told the Gainesville Sun that the timing was entirely a coincidence.


It should be safe to treat people like Cruz and Yoho as walking absurdities. Doing so has the added advantage of accuracy: they are absurd, and offensive, and cruel, and silly, and stupid, and wrong.

Doing so, however, is not at all safe; they are also far more powerful than they deserve to be, far more powerful than any sane society should ever let people like them become.

I want to laugh. I really do.

But that’s the thing. The joke, in the end, is on us.

​​Not everyone can pay for the news. But if you can, we need your support.

Truthout is widely read among people with lower ­incomes and among young people who are mired in debt. Our site is read at public libraries, among people without internet access of their own. People print out our articles and send them to family members in prison — we receive letters from behind bars regularly thanking us for our coverage. Our stories are emailed and shared around communities, sparking grassroots mobilization.

We’re committed to keeping all Truthout articles free and available to the public. But in order to do that, we need those who can afford to contribute to our work to do so — especially now, because we have just 9 days left to raise $50,000 in critical funds.

We’ll never require you to give, but we can ask you from the bottom of our hearts: Will you donate what you can, so we can continue providing journalism in the service of justice and truth?