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SNL lampoons Ted Cruz in a sketch featuring Chloe Fineman as Britney Spears

"Saturday Night Live" took aim at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) for scandals that surfaced recently in its cold open on Feb. 20. (Video: Allie Caren/The Washington Post)

“Saturday Night Live” opened with a sketch that featured Britney Spears (played by Chloe Fineman) interviewing a cornrow-wearing Sen. Ted Cruz (Aidy Bryant) about his controversial decision to fly to Cancun as his Texas constituents battled freezing temperatures and outages that left many without heat, water and electricity.

Spears has been in the news following a New York Times documentary detailing the struggles she endured as a young female star in the ’90s and early aughts, and the increasingly controversial conservatorship that has allowed her father to control her finances and other aspects of her life. SNL’s cold open made her the host of a Las Vegas-based talk show bearing the name of the pop star’s 2000 hit “Oops, I Did It Again.” In addition to Cruz, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Gina Carano (of “The Mandalorian” fame) faced questioning from Spears on recent controversies.

The show, she said — in a thinly-veiled dig at Spears’s ex Justin Timberlake — was sponsored by the celeb-favorite Notes app. “Are you looking to post a lame apology 20 years too late,” Spears chirped. “Go through the motions with the notes app.”

Cruz was Spears’s first guest, wheeling a suitcase and carrying a Piña Colada on the way to his seat. “I’m not tan, I just cried myself red over my fellow Texans,” Cruz announced. “And that’s why I drink in their honor.”

“Texas is going through a huge crisis. And you literally abandoned it and flew to Cancun for a family vacash,” Spears said.

“And now I’m in a little bit of hot water, which I’m told is a thing no one in Texas has,” Cruz replied.

“Would you like to apologize?” Spears asked.

“Absolutely. I deeply regret my actions over the last couple of days,” Cruz said. “Mostly, flying United.”

The show also skewered the lawmaker for appearing to blame the jaunt on his young daughters. “They love Cancun,” Cruz said. “There’s so much for kids to do: The topless beach, shots at Señor Frog’s, swimming with sick dolphins.”

“I’m sorry, I am pretty bad at human stuff,” he added.

Cuomo, played by Pete Davidson, was up next. The politician is facing intense criticism for his handling of covid-19 data that failed to fully account for deaths associated with nursing homes. When Spears asked if he knew why he was appearing on the show, Davidson’s Cuomo offered a sheepish smile: “Is it because indoor dining is back in New York City?”

Smile fading, Cuomo conceded. “It’s because of the nursing home stuff,” he said before offering a brief apology.

“People just want answers,” Spears told him. “[New York Mayor] Bill De Blasio says you ought to be investigated.”

The prompt led Cuomo to unleash a string of profanity and use Rick Moranis — as in, the actor who was randomly attacked in New York City last year — as a verb.

When Cruz tried to bond with Cuomo over their respective scandals (“we’re both strong, misunderstood men”), the governor added himself to the long list of people who hate Ted Cruz. “Do not associate yourself with me. We are not the same,” Cuomo said. “I am a man. You are a clown.”

Fineman channeled Spears’s heavily-debated Instagram presence, dancing and twirling between welcoming guests, and briefly alluding to conspiracy theories suggesting the singer is covertly asking for help in her social media posts. “Everything is good,” Spears said in response to a “reader question” asking if she was okay.

“I am not trying to send people subliminal messages through my videos,” she added as the Free Britney hashtag briefly appeared on screen.

Britney Spears’s conservatorship is back in court — and back in the public eye

Carano, erstwhile star of “The Mandalorian,” was the singer’s final guest. Portrayed by Cecily Strong, the former mixed martial arts star refused to apologize. “I’ve done nothing wrong. No one can even explain what I did wrong,” she said. “Explain it.”

“On Instagram, you said conservatives have it as bad as people in Nazi Germany,” Spears said, detailing the controversy that led Disney to declare the star would no longer appear on the Disney Plus series.

“Look,” Carano replied, “I never would have made that Nazi comparison if I’d known everybody was going to be such a Nazi about it.”

Spears asked if Carano felt she was a victim of “cancel culture.”

“Absolutely,” Carano said before adding: “I was canceled by Disney. Disney is the moral high ground? Have you heard Brer Rabbit’s accent on Splash Mountain recently?”

Disney’s Splash Mountain is getting a new theme following petitions over its original inspiration

Saturday’s episode featured “Bridgerton” breakout Regé-Jean Page, who made his hosting debut alongside first-time musical guest Bad Bunny. The Latin trap wonder brought Spanish singer Rosalía onstage to perform their steamy hit “La Noche de Anoche” — and also appeared as a rapping house plant in an early sketch.

Fineman, the show’s impersonator extraordinaire, later took on Page’s “Bridgerton” co-star Phoebe Dynevor (and her character, Daphne) alongside the SNL host in a sketch that found the actors being coached by inept intimacy coordinators on the set of the hit Netflix period drama.

Late-night hosts and cable pundits on Feb. 18 slammed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) for taking a trip to Cancun as his home state reeled from a deadly deep freeze. (Video: The Washington Post)

This post has been updated.

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