Former US President George W. Bush has responded to comments made by Ellen DeGeneres about hanging out together on Sunday afternoon to watch a football game.
Bush’s spokesperson Freddy Ford told Fox yesterday, “President and Mrs Bush really enjoyed being with Ellen and Portia [de Rossi] and appreciated Ellen’s comments about respecting one another. They respect her.”
DeGeneres and wife de Rossi sat next to Bush and his wife, Laura, in a VIP suite at a Dallas Cowboys game.
Photos of DeGeneres and the former President talking and laughing with one another prompted much comment on social media, with many outraged that DeGeneres, a high-profile lesbian, and liberal Hollywood figure, appeared to enjoy spending time with Republican Bush.
Yesterday, on The Ellen Show, DeGeneres addressed the issue. She explained how she and de Rossi came to be in the VIP stand (they were invited by Charlotte Jones, daughter of Jerry Jones, who owns the Cowboys).
She then went on to say, “Here’s the thing. I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different. And I think we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all different.
“For instance, I wish people wouldn’t wear fur. I don’t like it but I’m friends with people who wear fur … just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them.
“When I say be kind to one another I don’t mean only the people that think the same way as you do. I mean be kind to everyone.”
She ended by thanking George and Laura Bush for a “fun” afternoon.
During his time as President, George W. Bush opposed same-sex marriage and during his 2004 re-election campaign suggested introducing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
He also defended the US military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy to keep serving members of the military in the closet. Many regard him as a ‘war criminal’ for the US-led invasion of Iraq which resulted in thousands losing their lives.
Bush’s appreciation for DeGeneres is unlikely to quell debate about the two’s afternoon together. DeGeneres’ tweet and video posted late Monday night has now had over 338k likes and prompted over 20,000 comments. Many welcome her call for tolerance but many others are angry.
DeGeneres faced similar criticism earlier in the year when she defended the comedian Kevin Hart and suggested he should host the Oscars. This was despite him being dropped from the event over homophobic comments he’d made earlier in his career.