Ellen DeGeneres is defending her friendship with George W. Bush after the pair were spotted smiling and laughing together during Sunday’s NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. DeGeneres addressed the controversy surrounding the photo on her show on Monday, saying she believes it’s important to be friends with people who don’t share all the same beliefs as you.
DeGeneres kept the four-minute monologue mostly light, joking that the biggest shock shouldn’t have been her seat next to the former president, but that she had actually left the house. DeGeneres added that she was one of the few people cheering for her friend Aaron Rodgers and his team while playing in the Dallas Cowboys home stadium, noting that Charlotte Jones, the daughter of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, had invited DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi to the game. “We went because we wanted to keep up with the Joneses,” joked DeGeneres.
The comedian briefly made reference to the state of turmoil the US is currently in with President Trump, joking that she cheered every time the Packers scored “or every time another whistleblower came forward. The referees, you guys, the referees.”
Getting serious for a moment, DeGeneres finally admitted that she understood why people were shocked to see “…a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president,” but kept the focus on the positive responses, including one tweet that said “Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again.” DeGeneres told her audience that she’s friends with many people who don’t share the same beliefs she does, adding “But 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 only mean the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone.”
Yes, that was me at the Cowboys game with George W. Bush over the weekend. Here’s the whole story. pic.twitter.com/AYiwY5gTIS
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) October 8, 2019
DeGeneres and Bush sharing a laugh at a football game likely doesn’t come as a total shock to the comedian’s viewers, who may remember that George W. Bush was a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show back in 2017. Still, there was a large and vocal group who were not happy with the pairing, which was seen by many as DeGeneres co-signing some of Bush’s most egregious and violent acts.
Ellen DeGeneres laughing it up with someone who has actively tried to harm our community feels disappointing, irresponsible, and dangerous. https://t.co/tgGfmCGQ5A
— Out Magazine (@outmagazine) October 7, 2019
is it so bad that ellen and george bush are friends? is it so terrible, in these polarising times, to cross the aisle in the spirit of friendship and shared humanity and crack jokes with a guy responsible for the deaths of between 500,000 and 1,000,000 iraqis?
— thomas violence (@thomas_violence) October 8, 2019
This Ellen/Bush story isn’t about “disagreement.” We all have friends who see the world differently. George W. Bush fought against marriage equality, put us into unjust wars, and destabilized whole countries. To frame this as a “difference of opinion” is dishonest.
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) October 8, 2019
This isn’t the first time Ellen’s support of controversial figure has landed her in hot water with viewers. DeGeneres’ endorsement of Kevin Hart after he stepped down from hosting the Academy Awards following the unearthing of his older homophobic tweets and standup routines also left the talk show host open to criticism from her fans and followers.