Musical icon Elton John has come to the defense of his friend Ellen DeGeneres after the talk show host was swarmed with left-wing criticism for sitting next to former President George W. Bush at an NFL game.
Instead of caving to the mob, DeGeneres defended her friendship with the former president and underscored the obvious: we should be kind to others, even if they happen to have differing political views.
“I admire Ellen for standing up and saying what she said,” John told NPR.
The “Rocket Man” singer piggybacked off DeGeneres’ message of tolerance and even offered praise for Mr. Bush and President Donald Trump for humanitarian efforts addressing HIV/AIDS globally.
“Unfortunately, what our democracy has become now is that it’s not OK to have different opinions than yours and that is not healthy,” John said, according to Fox News.
“George Bush has made a lot of mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes. Ellen DeGeneres has made a lot of mistakes,” he said.
“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,” he added.
John also heaped praise on Mr. Bush for launching the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, an $85 billion global investment to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in over 50 countries.
“PEPFAR came from the Republicans. People have to remember that,” the musician said, noting that the initiative is “the most incredible thing a Republican president has done on a philanthropic level.”
According to Fox News, John said that he appreciated Trump’s continuation of PEPFAR, though he might not agree with most of the president’s policies.
“People need to come together,” he emphasized. “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.”
After the “controversy” of merely sitting next to a former president and smiling, DeGeneres defended herself and her friendship with Bush to her live audience and millions of viewers.
“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,” the host said, as reported by The Daily Wire. “We’re all different, and I think we’ve forgotten that that’s okay, that we’re all different.”
“For instance, I wish people wouldn’t wear fur. I don’t like it, but I’m friends with people who wear fur,” DeGeneres continued. “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.”
As noted by Fox News, Bush spokesman Freddy Ford told the network that Mr. Bush “appreciated” DeGeneres’ comments.
“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 said. “They respect her.”