Ellen DeGeneres defends photo with George W. Bush amid backlash

This shot of George W. Bush and Ellen DeGeneres at the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys game sparked an internet storm. Photo: Twitter

Ellen DeGeneres has responded to the backlash over her football game hang out with George W. Bush.

A day after the Ellen DeGeneres Show host was photographed chatting and laughing with the former president and his wife, Laura Bush, at a Dallas Cowboys football game, she addressed online critics who took issue with the fact she was getting chummy with someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum.

Ellen explained that she and wife Portia de Rossi, were guests of Charlotte Jones - the daughter of the Cowboys owner Jerry Jones - and happened to be seated next to the former president.

Ellen argued unfair scrutiny was placed on her, saying that though there were “100,000 people in the stadium” for the game, “they showed a shot of me and George laughing together — and so people were upset.”

She argued that forging ties across the political divide was essential, and commendable.

Hitting back

“Here’s the thing. I’m friends with George Bush,” the host said.

“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.”

Ellen wrapped up saying, “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. Doesn’t matter [who].”

Internet’s fury over Ellen and Bush photo

The outrage kicked off after Ellen was photographed laughing with the former president, who backed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage during his time in office.

The image sparked an outcry from fans and famous figures alike, with one person saying, “Ellen DeGeneres selling out big time.”

They weren’t alone.

Other people on Twitter didn’t seem to feel it was a big deal, and were into the whole unity of the moment. One wrote, “that’s the America I want to live in.”

Words by Suzy Byrne & Tanya Edwards.

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