The controversy started on Sunday when DeGeneres was spotted sitting next to Bush, 73, and his wife Laura Bush, 72, at a Dallas Cowboys football game. DeGeneres, who was joined by her wife Portia de Rossi, was shown chatting and laughing with Bush during the game’s broadcast.
After DeGeneres, 61, defended her friendship with the conservative politician on her talk show, some of her famous friends like Reese Witherspoon and Kristen Bell praised her for preaching kindness to others.
“Thank you for this important reminder, Ellen!” Witherspoon wrote in a since-deleted tweet that also included a quote from DeGeneres.
“I have friends who don’t think the same things that I do. When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean be kind to the people who think the same way you do. I mean ..Be Kind to Everyone,” DeGeneres’ quote read.
Witherspoon also commented “exactly” alongside the bullseye emoji on DeGeneres’ Instagram post where she defended the friendship.
Bell, on the other hand, posted a side-by-side picture of Bush and DeGeneres on her Instagram, calling the talk show host her “queen.”
Sarandon didn’t add her own thoughts to the matter, choosing to instead quote an article from Out.com criticizing DeGeneres’ stance.
“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,” Sarandon’s tweet quoted.
Ruffalo took a different approach and expressed why he disagreed with DeGeneres’ call for kindness.
“Sorry, until George W. Bush is brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War, (including American-lead torture, Iraqi deaths & displacement, and the deep scars—emotional & otherwise—inflicted on our military that served his folly), we can’t even begin to talk about kindness,” Ruffalo tweeted alongside a Vanity Fair article.
Sorry, until George W. Bush is brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War, (including American-lead torture, Iraqi deaths & displacement, and the deep scars—emotional & otherwise—inflicted on our military that served his folly), we can’t even begin to talk about kindness. https://t.co/dpMwfck6su— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) October 9, 2019
On her talk show on Tuesday, DeGeneres, addressed the event, pointing out that it’s a good thing when two people of different backgrounds can be friendly.
After explaining on her show that she and wife de Rossi had been invited to the game by Charlotte Jones, daughter of the Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones, DeGeneres said, “During the game, they showed a shot of me and George laughing together, and so people were upset.”
“They thought, ‘Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?’” she said, joking that they “didn’t even notice I’m holding the brand-new iPhone 11” in the shot. “But a lot of people were mad, and they did what people do when they’re mad: They tweet.”
Instead of sharing the less savory comments, DeGeneres shared a positive tweet she says that she “loved,” which said, “Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again.”
To that, DeGeneres said, “Exactly. 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” (Bush was a guest on DeGeneres’ talk show in 2017).