Assclown Alert is a column of opinion, analysis and snark.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz started the year on a low note.
After a backlash from the far right for calling the Jan. 6 insurrection a "violent terrorist attack," the Texas Republican groveled on Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson's show in January 2022, saying he'd chosen his words carelessly. (Never mind that the senator called the Capitol riot a terrorist attack or referred to participants as terrorists at least 17 times prior to the Fox appearance, according to a CNN fact check.)
"The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb," Cruz told an incredulous Carlson. The senator said he'd only intended to use the T-word on those who violently attacked the cops when ransacking the Capitol.
The pathetic move drew ridicule from both the right and the left. And it's only been downhill from there for Texas' junior senator.
This spring, staff at a ticket counter in the Bozeman, Montana airport called the police for help after Cruz threw a temper tantrum over his missed flight.
During a speech at a July gathering of conservative college students, Cruz relentlessly mocked gender identity and LGBTQ+ people, declaring that his pronoun is "kiss my ass."
Weeks later, the senator drew rebukes for using violent rhetoric to describe how concerned citizens should deal with those annoying people on the left. He urged attendees of the conservative CPAC conference to "grab a battle axe" and "go fight the barbarians."
In September, Cruz appeared on a Lubbock TV station to praise a federal highway project that he voted against funding. Then, the following month, he invaded the privacy of a transgender preschool teacher by exposing his personal details during an anti-LGBTQ+ screed on social media.
In between all that, Cruz also found time to have a pants-shitting social media meltdown over the Sesame Street character Elmo receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Cruz, of course, is vaccinated but plays the role of an anti-vaxxer to appeal to the furthest-right fringes of his base.
And we could go on.
While good ol' Ted certainly had plenty of competition from liars and hucksters like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton during 2022, his utterances and actions were absurd enough to make him assclown of the year.