Sen. Ted Cruz took on “Family Guy” producer Seth MacFarlane on Sunday, clashing over Big Bird’s weekend announcement that the big yellow puppet had gotten vaccinated.
Yes, the announcement was made by “Sesame Street” character Big Bird, who is eternally 6 years old and therefore became COVID-19 vaccine-eligible last week.
The Texas Republican had criticized a Saturday morning tweet from Big Bird as “Government propaganda…for your 5 year old!”
“I got the COVID-19 vaccine today! My wing is feeling a little sore, but it’ll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy,” the 8-foot-2 avian said on Twitter.
Big Bird also mentioned that CNN host Erica Hill had told him that he had been getting vaccines since he was little, and said he had no idea.
The big yellow bird has appeared on “Sesame Street” since 1969. Cruz has supported childhood vaccines (such as for measles) in the past but said he believes mandates should be decided at a state level. The senator introduced legislation Thursday that would ban children’s vaccine mandates (but not vaccines) by the federal government and any entity getting federal funds, leaving the decision up to parents.
On Sunday morning, MacFarlane reacted to a story about the dust-up with a tweet naming myriad “Sesame Street” and “Muppet Show” characters.
“No surprise Big Bird is smarter than Ted Cruz,” the “Ted” and “Ted 2” filmmaker tweeted Sunday morning. “So is Kermit, Ernie, Bert, Grover, Oscar, Cookie Monster, The Count, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, The Swedish Chef, Scooter, Janice, Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, and Animal.”
Actor George Takei jumped into the mess a few hours later, tweeting: “Fun facts distinguishing Big Bird from Ted Cruz: Big Bird will help kids get safely vaccinated. Ted cruz, nope. … Big Bird can’t fly. Not even to Cancun in the middle of a crisis. Ted Cruz? Sure. … No one hates Big Bird. Except Ted Cruz.”
Cruz, who has two tween girls, volleyed back at MacFarlane on Sunday evening, retweeting MacFarlane’s comment and writing, “Well, every one of those is a puppet, most with a hand inserted up their backside.
“@SethMacFarlane is 1 of the funniest souls on the planet. Am sorry to see him shilling for petty authoritarians who would deny you the right to make your own medical choices. #YourBodyYourChoice.” Cruz didn’t respond to or mention Takei.
MacFarlane, who has no kids, has not tweeted since the comment criticizing the politician’s intelligence.
Cruz summed up his thoughts about the Big Bird kerfuffle with a tweet Saturday night.
“Liberals are weird,” the senator wrote. “They don’t care about open borders. … Or rising inflation. … Or schools covering up sexual assaults. … Or the disaster of Afghanistan. … Or tyrannical Dems violating medical privacy & freedom. … But criticize Big Bird? And they lose their sh**.”
“Children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and can get sick with COVID-19,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on its website. “Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or they may have no symptoms at all (‘asymptomatic’). Fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults.”
Nationally, more than 8,300 children ages 5 to 11 have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, The Times reported last week, including nearly 400 in Los Angeles County. Nearly 100 children in this age group have died from COVID-19 across the country, including one in L.A. County.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.