Seth Rogen is known for being goofy and affable, with an easy charm and an infectious laugh. But don’t underestimate his ability to effectively cut down sleazy, disingenuous political posturing.
Canadian-born Texas Sen. Ted Cruz found that out the hard way on Wednesday night. Cruz took issue with President Joe Biden’s decision to re-join the Paris Agreement, a pact to combat climate change that’s been agreed to by almost every country in the world. Former president Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2017.
Of course, the Paris Agreement is named for the city where it was agreed to, which has nothing to do with the citizens of Paris. It affects people living in Pittsburgh, or Peace River, Alta., or Peshawar, Pakistan just as much as it does Parisians.
Cruz’s statements are also disingenuous because he’s specifically and actively ignored the views of people in Pittsburgh. The presidential race in Pennsylvania was one of the closest in the 2020 election, but after days of counting, it was eventually called for Biden. Cruz was one of several Republican lawmakers who repeatedly and unfoundedly called Biden’s victory illegitimate.
(Also, when Trump initially used the “Pittsburgh, not Paris” line in 2017, the city’s mayor Bill Peduto slammed the then-president and said Pittsburgh “stands with the world and will follow [the] Paris Agreement.”)
But on Wednesday night, Cruz didn’t let Trump’s loss discourage him from using that debunked four-year-old argument. And that’s when Rogen piped up with a simple, direct response: “Fuck off you fascist.”
Cruz didn’t take kindly to that advice, accusing Rogen of being a “rich, angry Hollywood celebrity” whose values don’t match someone who’s “blue-collar,” “a union member,” or who works “in energy or manufacturing.”
But Rogen fired back, once again in an extremely direct way.
There have been repeated calls for Cruz’s resignation following his role leading up to the riot at the U.S. Capitol in early January. Cruz has supported Trump’s unfounded claims that the election was stolen from him, and a New Yorker reporter published a video of one of the insurrectionists saying with “serene confidence” that “Cruz would want us to do this.”
Afterwards, Cruz distanced himself from the riot by condemning it as a terrorist attack.
Rogen also took issue with Cruz’s crack about union members, adding that he’s actually in several.
Many social media users took issue with the idea that Cruz represents blue-collar workers, given his refusal to support a minimum wage increase, his Ivy League education at Princeton and Harvard (when he once debated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau), and his campaigning for the gaudy, gold-obsessed Trump.
Rogen wasn’t done there. He mockingly re-framed Cruz’s initial response, saying his ideal supporter would be “a white supremacist fascist who doesn’t find it offensive when someone calls your wife ugly.”
Rogen’s referring to the way Trump treated Cruz back in 2016, when they were rivals for the Republican nomination. Back when he was allowed on Twitter, Trump retweeted a side-by-side portrait of his wife Melania with an unflattering shot of Cruz’s wife Heidi. The caption read: “The images are worth a thousand words.” He also cryptically threatened to “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz.
Cruz responded by calling Trump “a snivelling coward” and urging him to “leave Heidi the hell alone.”
At the time, Trump was also peddling the unfounded conspiracy theory that Cruz’s father was involved in John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
When Cruz and Trump later became allies, many people expressed shock that Cruz was willing to support someone who made such low personal attacks on his family. In the words of GQ writer Jay Willis, the move demonstrated “a previously undiscovered level of spinelessness.”
Cruz hasn’t addressed Trump’s attacks on Heidi since then. When CNN reporter Chris Cuomo brought them up to Cruz during an interview last fall, Cruz wouldn’t respond.
“You actually wonder why you don’t have a lot of Republicans that want to come on your show,” Cruz said, instead. “You scream at me and yell at me and insult me.”
One of Cruz’s former staffers theorized that “blind ambition” was behind his about-face when it came to dealing with Trump.
“Psychologically, after he lost in ’16, he must have watched Trump’s messaging to his core base and concluded that maybe this group of voters he needed were going to be more receptive to a message like that,” the unnamed staffer told New York Magazine.
Another former staffer, Amanda Carpenter, told the magazine she’s been reflecting on her time serving the senator. “The biggest conversation I’ve had with fellow Cruz supporters is, ‘Was he always this way or did he change?’” she said.
Several former staff members and his 2016 campaign chairman are among the critics calling for his resignation.
Rogen, a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S., has long been willing to express his political opinions. In 2017, when he realized Donald Trump Jr. followed him on Twitter, he tweeted the then-president’s son, imploring him to “please ask your dad to resign before he destroys the planet.”
A few months later, Rogen told Stephen Colbert he hadn’t heard back, and so the two of them followed up in Jr.’s DMs.
A year later, he went back to Colbert’s show, where he talked about a time he was approached by teenagers who he later realized were the children of Republican politician Paul Ryan, former speaker of the United States House of Representatives and Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential candidate in the 2012 election.
“I tensed up and I didn’t know what to do,” Rogen told Colbert. He didn’t know how to proceed when Ryan asked to take a picture with him. “I look over and his kids are standing right there, expectantly... and I said, ‘No way, man!’”
But he didn’t stop there, even with Ryan’s kids in earshot.
“I said, ‘Furthermore, I hate what you’re doing to the country at this moment, and I count the days until you no longer have one iota of the power that you currently have,’” he continued. “I look over, and his kids are still standing right there! And I feel very conflicted... it’s not their fault, but at the same time, they should probably learn that if they like a movie or song, the person who made that probably doesn’t like their dad that much.”
Watch: Seth Rogen on ‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert’ in 2018. The exchange about Paul Ryan starts at about 3:45. Story continues after video.
Rogen was born and raised in Vancouver, but has dual citizenship because of his American father. In 2013, he told Australian outlet News, “I definitely associate with being Canadian much more than being American.”
Cruz, meanwhile, was born in Calgary, but moved to Texas with his family at age four. He was a dual citizen until 2014, when he officially renounced his Canadian citizenship, in large part because of his political aspirations.
“Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. senator; I believe I should be only an American,” he said in 2013.
It looks like Canadian citizenship is only one of many things he was willing to give up to further his political ambitions.