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Ted Cruz’s excellent fundraising adventure

This wasn’t a filibuster. It was a Washington telethon for the tea and antipathy party.

About the only thing missing toward the end of the 21-hour-plus stroll through Dr. Seuss and revisionist World War II history was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz singing “You’ll Never Grifter Alone,” with a beaming Koch brother on his knee.

If you were glued to C-SPAN, you might have been left with the impression this was the story of a heroic patriot rising up as the lone vanguard to stop the Affordable Care Act.

Not quite. Cruz, the Norma Desmond of the Beltway, was merely announcing to the right-wing world of ideologues that he was ready for his close-up – checks, credit cards and cash happily accepted.

Lost amid the Obamacare hand-wringing is that some $400 million has been raised, about 80 percent by anti-anti-anti Affordable Care Act groups, to inveigh against the law.

Perhaps the most telling incident of Cruz’s “Who’s the fairest of them all?” exercise occurred when he gazed lovingly to Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio, who has spent more time writing self-promotional books than sponsoring legislation.

“You inspire me,” Cruz gushed in the Senate’s version of Jerry Maguire.

What he actually meant was: “You had me at Citizens United.”

No doubt Rubio does inspire Cruz. Since arriving in Washington as the beefcake centerfold for the tea party, Rubio has become a moneymaking machine for all manner of sky-is-falling political groups, raising $5.2 million this year.

His Reclaim America PAC has raked in about $1.8 million, although it’s not clear who the senator wants to reclaim America from since the country seems to be where it’s always been.

Nobody has moved Rubio’s cheese, much less the Rocky Mountains.

Cruz’s PAC, the Jobs, Growth and Freedom Fund, only has a lousy, stinking $313,000.

While Cruz spoke on the Senate floor, his PAC was holding a Washington fund- raising event at $2,500-a-head, just to watch the United States senator demonstrate a knowledge of history that suggests Common Core standards really are needed.

Cruz began the day as just another ambitious politician with delusions of “Hail to the Chief” in his head. He came back as the undisputed three-card-monte hustler of Washington’s temple of moneychangers.

There are many fair criticisms of Obamacare. It will have its glitches, its setbacks, its potholes.

But to its detractors the Affordable Care Act represents a mother lode of opportunism for the merchants of fear such as Cruz, R-Horton Hears a Boo!, to slip deeper into the pockets of their marks and extract more money than Obamacare will cost them.

Daniel Ruth is a Tampa Bay Times columnist.

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