For the past 17 hours or so, Senator Ted Cruz (and his pals) have been pointlessly fake filibustering the U.S. Senate to, as the AP put it, “urge his colleagues to oppose moving ahead on a bill he supports.”

Here's some background and an explainer on the situation, but basically Cruz is trying to prevent the Senate from voting on a House-approved bill that would continue funding the federal government for the next two and a half months only if Obamacare is defunded. The Senate will – as anyone who's been paying attention knew weeks ago – vote to remove the anti-Obamacare language from the bill before sending it back to the House. Cruz is attempting to convince fellow Republicans not to let the bill come to vote, so the anti-Obamacare section won't be removed. Never mind that the bill he's currently fighting against is the exact bill he spent months encouraging the House to pass.

But why isn't this actually a filibuster? Because of Senate rules, Cruz would need 41 votes to deny cloture and actually delay the legislation. But because he doesn't have 41 votes, Cruz (and his supporting case of Mike Lee, David Vitter and Marco Rubio) will have to leave the floor by 1 p.m. Wednesday. As Talking Points Memo put it, this “filibuster” is “merely a speech to kill time.”

Not that Cruz et al haven't killed time in a memorable way. For instance, Cruz read Green Eggs and Ham as well as some supportive tweets. And he quoted a song by Obama supporter Toby Keith. Sounds like a great time.

UPDATE: And here is Cruz's Darth Vader impersonation:

[Image via AP]