Ellen DeGeneres is speaking out after she drew backlash when she was spotted sitting next to former President George W. Bush at Sunday's Dallas Cowboys-Green Bay Packers NFL game. During Tuesday’s episode of her namesake talk show, the daytime talk show host-turned-media mogul explained that she was invited to the game by Charlotte Jones, daughter of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
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
“We went because we wanted to keep up with the Joneses,” she joked, adding that when she accepted the invitation, she was aware that she would be surrounded by people of different views.
“When we were invited, I was aware I was gonna be surrounded by people from very different views and beliefs and I’m not talking politics,” she said. “I was rooting for the Packers and — get this — everyone in the Cowboys suite was rooting for the Cowboys.”
“During the game, they showed a shot of George and me laughing together, so people were upset. They thought, 'Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?'” she continued, addressing the backlash that was largely due to Bush’s anti-LGBTQ views during his presidency. “Didn’t even notice I’m holding the brand new iPhone 11. But a lot of people were mad, and they did what people do when they’re mad: They tweet.”
Acknowledging the backlash, DeGeneres took on a more serious tone, reading a tweet that read, “Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again.”
“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 that we’ve forgotten that we’re all different,” she explained. “For instance, I wish people wouldn’t wear fur. I don’t like it, but I’m friends with people who wear fur and I’m friends with people who are furry, as a matter of fact.”
“But just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean I’m not gonna be friends with them," DeGeneres continued. "When I say ‘be kind to one another,’ I don’t mean only the people that think the same way you do. I mean be kind to everyone. It doesn’t matter."
DeGeneres’ comments came after she sparked criticism on social media over the Sunday outing, with many taking issue with Bush’s record on LGBT rights during his presidency, one person writing, “I'd just like to point out George W. Bush's 2004 re-election relied upon pushing state ballot initiatives banning Same-Sex Marriage and pushing for a Constitutional Amendment banning it.”
However, not everyone had an adverse reaction, with some calling the outing “quirky” and “fun” and that “this is exactly what our world needs right now. We need to see that people who disagree politically can sit together, be kind, and enjoy a football game.”