Ellen DeGeneres, the popular comedian who hosts “The Ellen Show,” defended sitting next to former president George W. Bush at the Packers-Cowboys game on Sunday — and turned it into a teachable moment for the rest of America.
“Yes, that was me at the Cowboys game with George W. Bush over the weekend. Here’s the whole story,” DeGeneres tweeted Monday, along with a video of her explanation.
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 said that she and her wife, actress Portia de Rossi, were invited by Charlotte Jones, the daughter of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, to watch the game from their suite at AT&T Stadium.
“So we went, because we wanted to keep up with the Joneses,” DeGeneres joked, eliciting laughter from the audience.
During the game, DeGeneres said she and de Rossi hobnobbed with “fancy” types, and showed a video of who the couple sat next to — which included Bush and the former first lady, Laura.
DeGeneres noted that during the game, Fox — which was telecasting the match-up live — showed her and Bush sitting next to each other, sharing a laugh.
“People were upset,” she said. “They thought, why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?,” adding, “Didn’t even notice I’m holding a brand new iPhone 11.”
DeGeneres went on to defend her friendship with Dubya, saying point blank, “Here’s the thing: I’m friends with George Bush.
“In fact,” she continued, “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.”
She continued, “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 — I mean be kind to everyone. Doesn’t matter.
“Even people who are already playing Christmas music. I mean seriously. There’s no excuse for that,” she added, to applause from her audience.
DeGeneres also lightened up her defense by noting there was one reason she felt a bit uncomfortable during the game: She was rooting for the Packers, because she’s friends with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“So, I had to hide my cheese hat in Portia’s purse,” she joked.
At the end of the monologue, DeGeneres thanked the Bushes for “a Sunday afternoon that was so fun,” but had one pointed message for them:
“By the way, you owe me $6 for the nachos.”
DeGeneres’s overall sentiment was celebrated by many, including US Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine.
What’s remarkable about President Bush’s and Ellen DeGeneres’ friendship is that it is remarkable in today’s polarized society. Great example: you don’t have to share the same views to be friends. https://t.co/8oHKNcPIop— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) October 8, 2019
However, others still seemed upset by the pair’s friendship — including actress Susan Sarandon, who tweeted a quote from an Out.com article that noted Bush “was no friend to the LGBTQ+ community during his eight years in the White House.”
“But missing the point entirely, DeGeneres framed the issue as simply a matter of her hanging out with someone with different opinions, not a man repeatedly accused of being a war criminal.” https://t.co/OCyYEfNRQl— Susan Sarandon (@SusanSarandon) October 8, 2019