Comedian and host Ellen Degeneres has been forced to defend herself after she sat next to former president George W Bush at a football game.
The trouble started when pictures emerged on social media of the talk show host sitting next to the former President, which immediately went viral. However, a number of Twitter users were outraged by the idea of Ellen cosying up to Bush, who many critics believe should still be held accountable for his actions in instigating the Iraq War.
On The Ellen Degeneres Show, the 61-year-old addressed the audience directly on the subject of the controversy, stating: "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."
She added: "I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all different. When I say, ‘Be kind to one another’, I don’t mean only the people who think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone. Doesn’t matter."
However, LGBT+ commentators have criticised Degeneres for her association with Bush, due to the former Republican president's stance on LGBTQ+ issues during his two terms.Watch Ellen's defence on The Ellen Show below:
For example, writing in The Advocate, Neal Broverman commented:
"When it comes to Bush, we're not talking about someone who released a book of remorse or went on a press tour where he repeatedly apologized to us (or the Iraqi people). After his disastrous eight years, Bush slunk off to Texas to paint mediocre pieces of art, and most of us couldn't be happier to no longer see him in our news feeds ... Unlike DeGeneres, I refuse to grade presidents on a curve."
Meanwhile, Out Magazine stated: "Ellen DeGeneres laughing it up with someone who has actively tried to harm our community feels disappointing, irresponsible, and dangerous."