Human-shaped oil slick Sen. Ted Cruz would like you to know he thinks you are dumb.
On Wednesday, just hours after President Joe Biden signed an executive order announcing his intent to rejoin the Paris Agreement, Cruz put out a statement condemning it. His “rationale?” That by signing the agreement, “President Biden indicates that he’s more interested in the views of the citizens of Paris than in the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh.”
This makes Ted Cruz a huge goober in addition to being a continued threat to democracy. Allow me to explain point-by-point how embarrassing this statement is—and what it reveals about Cruz’s true character and motives.
Let’s start with the easiest. The Paris Agreement is not about the city of Paris, France; that’s just where it was signed. Cruz, a lawyer educated at Princeton and Harvard, knows this (or if he doesn’t, he should quit his job immediately). Just like he knows the Geneva Convention, Bretton Woods Agreement, Camp David Accord, and the North Atlantic Treaty don’t apply strictly to the places they are named after. Instead, the Paris Agreement is an international treaty that every country will be in once the U.S. officially re-enters 30 days after Biden sends a letter to the United Nations announcing his intent.
Then there’s Cruz invoking Pittsburgh in his statement. Let me be blunt: Ted Cruz does not give a shit about Pittsburgh. He plagiarized the line near-verbatim from former President Donald Trump who invoked it as justification to pull out of the Paris Agreement in 2017 and likely chose it because it was alliterative. Cruz’s use of it is much clunkier since he’s not president and he has the charisma of a moist sock.
Either way, invoking Pittsburgh was a bad choice for both men. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto didn’t take too kindly to being name-checked by Trump and announced the city would honor the Paris Agreement goals of limiting heating to within 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of pre-industrial levels. And he didn’t appreciate Cruz’s retread either.
But the third and most egregious issue is Cruz pretending to give a damn about Pittsburgh. Allegheny county—home to the city and surrounding towns—voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden in the presidential election, helping hand Pennsylvania to him and with it, the presidency. Cruz, you may recall, helped spark an insurrection by issuing baseless voter fraud claims about the state, and even after the insurrection, he still challenged Pennsylvania’s certified Electoral College votes after a violent mob overran the Capitol and killed a police officer. He was happy to disenfranchise its voters in an attempt to overthrow democracy then, and on Wednesday, he was happy to suddenly pretend to care about the city in an effort to fire up the culture war.
It’s not like Cruz even bothered to check with the people of Pittsburgh, the majority of whom not only voted for Biden but overwhelmingly support climate action. Surveys conducted by Yale and George Mason universities show 81% of people in Allegheny County support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant. In addition, 57% said the president and next Congress should make addressing the climate crisis a “high priority.” The city is also home to Carnegie Mellon, which is home to some of the best research in the country on climate adaptation and decarbonizing the transit and electricity sectors—research that could form the bedrock for creating millions of new jobs.
Yet in his statement, Cruz pretended his objection is tied to his “fight for blue-collar workers.” It’s not about those workers or the people of Pittsburgh whom he clearly knows nothing about. And it’s damn well not about addressing the climate crisis in a way that’s equitable and in line with the risks we face if the world fails to act. If we’ve learned anything from the past four years, it’s that we shouldn’t take this level of bad faith seriously.
Cruz’s statement is about himself and Republicans in general. The Texas senator has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations from oil companies, to say nothing of his own PAC that hoovers up even more fossil fuel money. In 2020, Cruz ranked as the third-biggest recipient of oil and gas money.
His statements about the Paris Agreement and voter fraud are one and the same: They’re both big lies in the service of the powerful and an attempt to rile people up while robbing the public and destroying the planet. Thankfully, Cruz failed with the insurrection, and—assuming he isn’t expelled from the Senate—activists are determined to make sure he fails on further destroying the planet, too.