Depending on where they are in their respective orbits, Mars is about 34.8 to 250 million miles from Earth, and that’s how much distance Sen. Ted Cruz wants to put between him and his recent Cancún scandal. Days after the Texan senator was dragged for taking his family on vacation while his state was suffering a catastrophic winter storm, Stephen Colbert took his turn mocking Cruz, 50, during the Feb. 22 episode of The Late Show. While showing a clip of NASA’s Perseverance rover landing down on Mars, a familiar voice was heard: “I’m Ted Cruz, and I’m going to Mars!”
“Shouldn’t you be helping your state get its power back on?” asked the confused NASA worker. “Leaving when so many Texans were hurting, I took the first flight I could get,” said Cruz (It was, of course, a mock-up, with Ted’s statements pieced together from different voice clips.) When asked what he would miss most about Earth, Ted ‘said,’ “Failing Texans. Massively.” When this ‘Ted’ learned that that Mars has a much colder temperature than Texas, he declared his decision to jump aboard the Perseverance probe was a “mistake.” However, there was no mistaking the joy in the room when that NASA engineer announced: “Congratulations, Houston. Ted Cruz has left the planet.”
Many of Ted Cruz’s constituents may wish they could ship him off to Mars after he decided to escape the winter storm that left millions without electricity, heat, or water. The scandal began on Wednesday (Feb. 17) after photos appeared online, showing a masked Cruz and his wife, Heidi Cruz, waiting at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Ted’s team first blamed his daughters Caroline and Catherine, saying that “with school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends,” and that “I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.” However, travel industry publication Skift reported that Cruz had to reschedule his flight for Thursday and was originally scheduled to return on Saturday (h/t the Washington Post.)
Shortly after that, the New York Times published leaked text messages that alleged Heidi planning the trip with their neighbors. “Our house is FREEZING,” she wrote before inviting her friends to join them at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun.
“From the moment I sat on the plane, I began really second-guessing that decision and saying, ‘Look, I know why we’re doing this, but I’ve also got responsibilities,’” said Ted on Thursday night. “Leaving when so many Texans were hurting didn’t feel right, and so I changed my return flight and flew back on the first available flight I could take. Look, it was obviously a mistake. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it. I was trying to be a dad.”
Texas may not be so forgiving. When Ted tweeted photos of him unloading bottles out of an SUV as part of the relief efforts (“#TexasStrong”), he was mocked for his “fake compassion.” Meanwhile, as of Sunday night, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had raised nearly $5 million in her fundraising efforts to help out Texas, per CNN.