Elton John defends Ellen DeGeneres, George W. Bush's friendship after Twitter backlash
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The British singer, 72, told NPR on Monday that he admired the talk show host, 61, for “very eloquently” standing by her friendship with the former president, 73, despite their political differences.
“Unfortunately, what our democracy has become now is that it’s not OK to have different opinions than yours and that is not healthy,” explained John. “George Bush has made a lot of mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes. Ellen DeGeneres has made a lot of mistakes. … Yes, there were [bad] decisions that he’s made, but that was made by Democratic presidents and Republican presidents. And I admire Ellen for standing up and saying what she did.”
John also praised Bush for launching the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003, which according to People magazine has saved over 17 million lives and provided more than $80 billion in funding.
Elton John attends IMDb LIVE At The Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards® Viewing Party on February 24, 2019, in Los Angeles, California. (ich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
“PEPFAR came from the Republicans,” said John. “People have to remember that.”
John added that Bush’s program is “the most incredible thing a Republican president has done on a philanthropic level.”
He also shared that while he doesn’t agree with many of President Trump’s policies, he does appreciate that he has continued PEPFAR.
“People need to come together,” said John. “They need to respect people’s views on life. Except when it’s heresy, and I don’t think George Bush is that kind of guy.”
Daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres took a stand against the Twitter mob after receiving backlash for appearing at a football game next to former President George W. Bush, whom she calls a "friend." (AP)
Bush’s spokesman, Freddy Ford, previously told Fox News that Bush “appreciated” DeGeneres’ comments about respect after the star took a stand against the Twitter mob shaming her for sitting next to him at a football game.
“President and Mrs. Bush really enjoyed being with Ellen and [her wife] Portia [de Rossi] and appreciated Ellen’s comments about respecting one another,” Ford told Fox News. “They respect her.”
The former president's comments come after DeGeneres was photographed sitting next to him at a Dallas Cowboys-Green Bay Packers game.
The backlash over the pictures caused DeGeneres to defend her "friend" on her talk show.
"When we were invited, I was aware that I was going to be surrounded with people from very different views and beliefs. And I'm not talking about politics... I was rooting for the Packers," DeGeneres joked. "So I had to hide my cheese hat in Portia's purse."
She noted that some "people were upset."
"They thought, why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?... A lot of people were mad. And they did what people do when they're mad... they tweet," she told her audience.
"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," DeGeneres continued. "We're all different and I think that we've forgotten that that's okay that we're all different... 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 mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone. Doesn't matter."
DeGeneres concluded by thanking Charlotte and Jerry Jones -- Jerry Jones is the owner of the Dallas Cowboys and Charlotte is his daughter -- as well as George and Laura Bush for a "Sunday afternoon that was so fun," but added that they owe her "six dollars for the nachos."
Fox News' Sasha Savitsky and Joseph Wulfsohn contributed to this report.