Republican presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz lashed out at movie star Sean Penn for his recent foray into quasi-journalism when he interviewed the drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán for Rolling Stone magazine. But not one to take a hit sitting down, Penn quickly struck back in an emailed response to Mother Jones magazine.

“El Chapo. You know, Sean Penn seems to think he is a sexy and attractive character. I so appreciate Hollywood for glorifying vicious homicidal killers. What a cute and chic thing to celebrate,” Cruz said in Hooksett, New Hampshire, Thursday during a discussion about substance abuse and addiction policy. “Someone who murders and destroys lives for a living. El Chapo's organization brings vast quantities of drugs into this country, vast quantities of heroin.”

Penn's interview with El Chapo in a secret Mexican jungle location may have led to his ultimate arrest. He was not amused.

“Ted Cruz is a generically funny and dangerously adept thought-smith. Clearly, he watches too much television and neglected to read my article before criticizing. It's understood,” Penn wrote to Mother Jones. “He's busy trading genius and raising aspirations with Mr. Trump. Blame Canada."

Cruz is used to derision from others. Though he is a top contender in the 2016 Republican race after winning the Iowa caucuses, he is disliked by many of his GOP colleagues for openly attacking his own party leadership in the Senate and his attempts to shut down the federal government. Among those who have expressed dislike for him or his policies are Arizona Sen. John McCain, former Speaker of the House John Boehner, former President George W. Bush, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and conservative pundit Ann Coulter.