West Virginia gov tells critics to kiss his bulldog's butt

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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice holds Babydog, his English Bulldog, during his State of the State address
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice holds Babydog, his English Bulldog, during his State of the State address


West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) used his annual State of the State address to hit back at critics who belittle his constituents, enlisting the aid of his trademark bulldog.

In an hourlong address, Justice touted billions in economic development programs and progress the state has made in combating substance abuse and overdose deaths.

But he reserved his favorite pet, Babydog, for a late message to those who lobbed insults at the state - and especially at Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) - after Manchin emerged as a critical hurdle for a Democratic reconciliation package that would have spent billions on social programs.

"They never believed in West Virginia that we could do it," Justice said as he held the dog up at the podium. "They told every bad joke in the world about us. And so from that standpoint, Babydog tells Bette Midler and all those out there, kiss her hiney."

Midler, the actress, tweeted last month that Manchin "wants us all to be just like his state, West Virginia. Poor, illiterate and strung out."

Midler later apologized for the tweet.

Babydog, an English bulldog, has become a friendly face in Justice's administration since the governor received the dog as a Christmas gift from his son in 2020. Babydog appeared regularly at Justice's coronavirus briefings, and Justice used the dog to promote vaccine incentives for West Virginia residents.

The state spent some of its federal CARES Act money on backpacks and bags with Babydog's face to promote vaccination campaigns. Babydog, a girl, has her own Twitter account, which mostly features photographs of the dog and her owner at West Virginia University football games, hunting and sitting atop the state seal.

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