Ted Cruz says he’s opening an investigation into Bud Light

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Those who steer clear of conservative fever swamps may not realize that much of the right is mad at Bud Light. But Sen. Ted Cruz is apparently well aware of this, and he’s doing his part to align himself with their dissatisfaction.

To briefly summarize, as part of a promotional campaign tied to the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, Bud Light partnered with Dylan Mulvaney, a trans woman with a prominent social media profile. She posted a harmless and lighthearted Instagram video, which led to conservative apoplexy because … well, it’s not altogether clear why. Apparently, much of the right doesn’t believe trans people should be involved in promotional campaigns with beer companies.

What followed was a surprisingly intense effort on the part of the right to effectively “cancel” Bud Light, complete with boycotts and social media videos featuring conservatives pouring beer down drains.

All of which appears to have piqued the interest of two sitting U.S. senators who probably ought to have better things to do with their time. The Hill reported:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) opened and called for an investigation into Anheuser-Busch over its collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, saying that the company was potentially marketing its products to a younger audience through the partnership.

According to a letter Cruz and Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee sent to Brendan Whitworth, the Anheuser-Busch CEO and chairman of the Beer Institute, Bud Light might have violated existing guidelines that prevent beer companies from promoting their products to younger audiences.

“We would urge you, in your capacity at Anheuser-Busch, to avoid a lengthy investigation by the Beer Institute by instead having Anheuser-Busch publicly sever its relationship with Dylan Mulvaney, publicly apologize to the American people for marketing alcoholic beverages to minors, and direct Dylan Mulvaney to remove any Anheuser-Busch content from his social media platforms,” the far-right senators wrote.

So, a few things.

First, Cruz and Blackburn misgender Mulvaney throughout their correspondence, apparently because they believe it’s wrong to treat trans people with respect.

Second, the Republicans seem convinced that Bud Light marketed alcoholic beverages to minors, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary.

Third, Cruz ran to — where else? — Fox News yesterday to celebrate himself for daring to tackle the big challenges facing the nation, such as a March Madness ad featuring a social media influencer the senator doesn’t like because of her gender identity. It’s a safe bet that a fundraising campaign will soon follow.

Fourth, NBC News noted last month that Cruz might’ve “built his reputation as a conservative flamethrower,” but he’s “seeking to show some bipartisan credentials as he runs for re-election in a state that is becoming more competitive.” There’s certainly some truth to that, though the far-right incumbent clearly hasn’t abandoned his “flamethrower” persona altogether — despite the fact that the senator isn’t facing a primary rival, and he has no electoral incentives to pick ugly and unnecessary fights like these.

Finally, Cruz and Blackburn seem to believe they’re initiating an actual investigation. Their letter to the Anheuser-Busch CEO said Bud Light partnership with a trans influencer “warrants detailed oversight by Congress” — no, seriously, that’s what it said — and to that end, the senators made a series of document requests.

To be sure, the beer company can ignore those requests: Cruz isn’t in a position to issue subpoenas or call hearings because, at least for now, there’s a Democratic majority in the Senate. Cruz’s “investigation” carries all the legal weight of an off-hand comment made on his thrice-weekly podcast — which is to say, it has no legal weight at all.

But stunts like these tell us a great deal about who Cruz is, what he values, whom he picks fights with, and how he tries to misuse the power Texans gave him.

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer for “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the editor of MaddowBlog and an MSNBC political contributor. He’s also the bestselling author of “The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics.”

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