If one picture is worth 1,000 words, then Ellen DeGeneres' recent snap with pal and former Republican president George W. Bush is well past its word limit.
The beloved daytime talker got tongues wagging recently when she and wife Portia de Rossi were snapped sitting alongside Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game. The backlash focused on the perceived clash between DeGeneres' avowed left-leaning, pro-LGBTQ stances and Bush's conservative values, which included a push to "protect" marriage by federally limiting it to the "union of a man and woman" during his presidency.
Ellen responded to the criticism after the pic went viral last week, explaining in a monologue on her show that she was aware she'd be surrounded by people with "very different views and beliefs" when she was invited to the NFL game. "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," she said. "We're all different, and I think that we've forgotten that that's okay."
The stark reaction to DeGeneres' statement from some of her Hollywood peers, though, speaks volumes about the state of political and cultural division in the nation at the moment, with some praising her for rising above and others slamming the amiable chatter for what they perceive as tailgating with the enemy.
Here are some of the most vocal responses so far:
Elton John: The "Your Song" singer jumped to his friend's defense, telling NPR on Monday (Oct. 14) that he "admires Ellen for standing up and saying what she did…unfortunately, what our democracy has become now is that it’s not OK to have different opinions than yours and that is not healthy. 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."
Blake Shelton: The Voice judge had a one-word response to Ellen's snap: "Amen."
Kristen Bell, Reese Witherspoon: The Good Place star posted side-by-side pics of Bush and DeGeneres, writing, "Shes my (queen)." That post, along with one from Witherspoon in which she tweeted "thank you for this important reminder, Ellen!" both appear to have since been deleted.
Dax Shepard: A thumbs up from Bell's husband, though, is still up, with the simple mesage, "PREACH!"
Howard Stern: Well aware that outrageousness helps to change the topic, the SiriusXM host helped change the subject by planting a big, wet kiss on Ellen in a visit to her show this week. "People were giving you grief about this George Bush picture," he said. "You know I'm always with you, I'm on your side…people have this picture in their mind of you and George Bush." So, in his opinion, what Ellen needed to do was take a picture making out with him to flip the script. "Once people see me with you no one's going to be thinking about George Bush." As Stern grabbed her hands, requested consent and made sure she was okay with it, DeGeneres joked, "Nothing worse can happen to me now."
Scooter Braun: The mega-manager tweeted that DeGeneres' friendship with Bush was "another reason why I love Ellen!"
John Rich: The country star had no time for people critical of Ellen, posting a snap of Bush with former First Lady Michelle Obama and writing, "I wonder when the angry Hollywood elites will start attacking this former 1st Lady over her willingness to hang out with someone they don't like?"
I wonder when the angry Hollywood elites will start attacking this former 1st Lady over her willingness to hang out with someone they don't like? Or is @TheEllenShow going to be the only one they pick to attack? Mob mentality is real, just say no. pic.twitter.com/0iin4WoinG
Mark Ruffalo: The loud-and-proud, left-leaning actor had no time for Ellen's unity talk. "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," the Avengers star tweeted last week.
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
Susan Sarandon: The fellow vocal liberal actor re-tweeted a comment from Out magazine, which stated, "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."
“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.” https://t.co/OCyYEfNRQl
Jameela Jamil: The Good Place star didn't learn that much about Bush in school in England, but after reading up on him, well, she wasn't feeling the across-the-aisle vibe in the pic. "Ooooof learning today about the full extent of Bush’s heinous presidency," she tweeted. "We weren’t taught much about him at school, we just heard he was stupid…(we were dealing with our own epic nightmare of a prime minister back then). What a monstrous leader. I now understand the rage.."
Ooooof learning today about the full extent of Bush’s heinous presidency… we weren’t taught much about him at school, we just heard he was stupid…(we were dealing with our own epic nightmare of a prime minister back then). What a monstrous leader. I now understand the rage..
David Cross: The acerbic stand-up comedian was not having the picture, the backlash or DeGeneres' explanation. Just none of it. "It was neither," he tweeted. "'Shut down,' nor was it 'powerful". It was weak, self-serving, dissmisive and eye–opening."
It was neither, "shut down", nor was it "powerful". It was weak, self-serving, dissmive and eye-opening https://t.co/1gHIb4vlYY