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‘You pointless fossil’: John Cornyn’s campaign picked a fight with Patton Oswalt, and the comedian hit back

Patton Oswalt attends the Governors Ball during the 2018 Primetime Emmys Awards on, Sept. 17, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

These days, fierce Twitter feuds can arise between the most random foes. Author J.K. Rowling went after Trump-supporting Harry Potter fans. Grammy Award-winning rapper Cardi B tangled with conservative commentator Tomi Lahren. Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer spent years disparaging Dippin’ Dots ice cream.

Tuesday was no exception. The social media platform transformed, yet again, into a battleground — this time with the campaign team of Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) launching an attack on Patton Oswalt, dredging up the comedian’s old tweets that contained raunchy, expletive-filled jokes they deemed “offensive.”

The tweetstorm appeared to have been sparked by Oswalt’s seconds-long cameo in a campaign video released Tuesday by MJ Hegar, a Democratic military veteran who will challenge Cornyn for his Senate seat in 2020.

But while the “Team Cornyn” account, which is run by the senator’s campaign staff, may have gotten the first hit, Oswalt’s backers quickly descended on their tweets.

Cornyn’s campaign team was swiftly ratioed, with a majority of their tweets about Oswalt drawing thousands of derisive comments compared to handfuls of retweets. Commenters rebuked the tactic, calling the team a “profound embarrassment” and “snowflakes.” Oswalt, known for his outspoken Twitter presence, also jumped into the fray, firing off more than 20 tweets and retweets skewering the senator and his campaign.

A spokesman for Cornyn could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

“Lemme put a nickel in the swear jar and then you can tell me about your crush on Theda Bara, you pointless fossil,” Oswalt wrote in one tweet, referencing the silent movie star.

Team Cornyn threw down the gauntlet shortly before noon on Tuesday. Just hours earlier, Hegar had dropped the video announcing her run for Senate, which featured Oswalt saying one line in the roughly four-minute-long clip. But the comedian’s brief appearance was all it took.

In an attempt to blast Hegar for accepting support from a celebrity like Oswalt, the senator’s campaign staff dove deep into his Twitter history, unearthing various instances as far back as 2013 in which he shared tweets littered with profanity. Over the course of several hours, the team posted a number of Oswalt’s tweets, which ranged from references to explicit photos to jokes about sex toys.

When a tweet gets more "replies" than "retweets" or "likes," it isn't necessarily a good thing. (Video: Allie Caren, Sarah Hashemi/The Washington Post, Photo: Graphic: Sarah Hashemi/The Washington Post)

“Hollywood Hegar & Vulgar Patton,” read one tweet from Team Cornyn that included a joke Oswalt made about men’s and women’s body parts.

The account censored Oswalt’s tweets using asterisks, even editing words not widely considered to be profane, such as vagina and penis.

It took Oswalt no time to launch a savage counterattack.

The comedian attempted to channel the backlash in his favor, calling on anyone “offended by my ‘sailor talk’” to contribute their “outrage nickels” to a “swear jar,” linking to Hegar’s Senate campaign.

He then turned his attention back to Cornyn and his team. Following their lead, Oswalt shared the senator’s tweets, including one quoting Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and another that appeared to express support for Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was accused last year of sexual assault when he was in high school. (Kavanaugh has denied all the allegations.)

Meanwhile, numerous Twitter users also ripped Team Cornyn, drawing attention to the glaring ratio.

Others ridiculed Cornyn’s staff for finding Oswalt’s cursing offensive when President Trump has used similar language in past tweets. Last week, Trump slammed portions of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election as “total bullshit.” Some users also highlighted tweets posted by Trump before he was elected that had swear words and recalled the lewd language he used to speak about women.

The people running the account were also mocked for the “pearl-clutching” nature of their tweets.

“Does your office have enough fainting couches?” one Twitter user asked.

“I’m wondering if there’s a basket of pearl necklaces at the door for visitors to borrow and clutch, in case they forget theirs at home,” another wrote.

As the roasting continued throughout the day, Oswalt’s name started trending on Twitter, a fact the comedian didn’t hesitate to point out.

“You can’t even trend when you’re being dunked on,” he tweeted, tagging Cornyn. “What a sparrowfart you are.”

When a Twitter user raised concerns that Cornyn’s team was harassing Oswalt, he offered a different perspective.

“What @TeamCornyn is doing is called ‘unwitting promotion’ and I hope they never stop,” he wrote.

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