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'SNL' focuses on Republicans' winning ways

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was described as a man who has said, "Screw you science, I know Joe Rogan."
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The Democratic Party was pummeled this week after symbolic election losses Tuesday that saw Glenn Youngkin become the first Republican to win Virginia's governorship since 2009.

But "Saturday Night Live" wasn't about to pile on. The show focused a critical eye on tactics that may have proven successful for Republicans, including making vaccinations and critical race theory into major issues for the off-year election.

The show opened with a spoof of Fox News' "Justice w/ Judge Jeanine," with Cecily Strong portraying host Jeanine Pirro, an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump and a fierce critic of President Joe Biden.

"Tonight’s top story," Pirro announced, "Is the president dead? Politically, yes."

Pirro criticized Biden's vaccination mandates, which would require workers at U.S. companies with at least 100 employees be vaccinated against Covid-19 or be tested weekly, as totalitarian.

She introduced Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (played by a bearded Pete Davidson) as a man who has taken a stand and said, "Screw you science, I know Joe Rogan."

The player has been sidelined after contracting Covid-19. He eschews vaccination and believes in alternate treatments, some of which have been widely disproven. In the preseason Rodgers claimed he had been "immunized."

Playing off the abortion rights motto, "my body, My choice," Davidson, playing Rodgers, said, "It’s my body and my Covid, you know, I could give it to anybody I want."

He argued that he "never lied" to teammates regarding his vaccination status when he "took all my teammates into a huddle, got all their faces three inches away from my wet mouth" and asked for their trust.

Virginia's next governor, Youngkin (Alex Moffatt), made an appearance. Pirro asked him what critical race theory is.

"Simple," he said, "it’s what got me elected."

Youngkin also said the emergence of Republican parents as a political force in school board elections, educational subjects, and textbooks has been a good thing.

"What’s important is parents," he said. "Everyone knows they should run schools."

Youngkin brought along a parent, a woman introduced as Helen (Heidi Gardner), who announced her list of books that shouldn't be studied by American school children.

Among them was Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby."

"Prejudice is fine," the parent said, "but pride is a term that has been coopted by the gays."

"The Great Gatsby," she said, " — too much jazz."

Trump (James Austin Johnson) stopped by to praise Youngkin, who appeared to want nothing to do with him, and to express random observations that were essentially a series of non-sequiturs.

"I just wanted to congratulate Glenn Youngkin and mostly myself on our tremendous victory in Virginia," he said.

Trump said he recently spoke to Santa Claus, who said, "Christmas is canceled sir. And I said, 'We’re not going to let that happen.'"

Where the cold open was critical of Republicans, news segment "Weekend Update" pulled no punches with Biden and his prolonged efforts to score a major legislative victory.

On Saturday, the president touted the House's passage of a massive infrastructure bill he backed as a long-awaited win.

But co-host Colin Jost argued the money the bill will unleash for needs like transportation and high speed data "should be enough to clean as many as two of LaGuardia's bathrooms."

And, suggesting social media might be a bad influence on American politics, Jost said, "When has more internet ever been bad for America" as a photo of Jan. 6 rioters appeared on screen.

Rapper and actor Ice Cube (Kenan Thompson) made an appearance to lament that his vow not to get vaccinated has cost him work in Hollywood.

He mentioned that he might miss out on reprised rolls in such projects as "Barber Shop 4: Just a Little Off the Sides," and a prequel to "Friday" — "Thursday."

"This mandate is costing the world my art," he said.

Kieran Culkin of HBO's "Succession" hosted; Ed Sheeran was the musical guest.