Talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres pushed back against criticism from her largely progressive fanbase after being photographed alongside her friend and former President George W. Bush at an NFL game.
During her monologue on Monday, Ellen DeGeneres responded to criticism across social media over a viral photo of her sitting next to George Bush and his wife Laura at a Dallas Cowboys game on Sunday, revealing that she had been invited to the game by Charlotte Jones, the daughter of the team’s owner Jerry Jones.
— Matt Gorman (@mattsgorman) October 6, 2019
“When we were invited, I was aware that I was going to be surrounded with people from very different views and beliefs. And I’m not talking about politics… I was rooting for the Packers,” DeGeneres joked. “So I had to hide my cheese hat in Portia’s purse.”
“People were upset,” DeGeneres admitted. “They thought, why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?… A lot of people were mad. And they did what people do when they’re mad… they tweet.”
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
The comedian went on to make the case for bridging America’s sharp political divide by insisting that she was friends with people from all walks of life, whatever their political beliefs.
“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,” DeGeneres explained. “We’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different… 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 mean only the people that think the same way that you do,” she continued. “I mean be kind to everyone. Doesn’t matter.”
Although the extent of the pair’s somewhat unlikely friendship remains unclear, it is believed to have started when Bush appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2017.
During the interview, Bush made similar comments about friendships crossing the political divide in reference to a photo of him hugging Michelle Obama at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“That surprised everybody,” Bush said at the time. “That’s what so weird about society today, that people on opposite sides of the political spectrum could actually like each other.”