Elton John is lending his voice of support to Ellen DeGeneres as the comedian and talk show host continues to come under fire for her relationship with former president George W. Bush.
During an interview with NPR, John — unprompted — said he admired DeGeneres, 61, for “very eloquently” standing by her friendship with Bush despite their political differences.
“Unfortunately, what our democracy has become now is that it’s not okay to have different opinions than yours and that is not healthy,” John, 72, said. “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 went on to praise Bush, 73, for launching the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a United States governmental initiative that — since its creation in 2003 — has saved over 17 million lives and provided more than $80 billion in funding for HIV/AIDs treatment, prevention, and research.
“PEPFAR came from the Republicans, people have to remember that,” John said, calling Bush’s program “the most incredible thing a Republican president has done on a philanthropic level.”
“People need to come together,” continued John, who also praised President Donald Trump for continuing PEPFAR (while admitting he disagrees with many of Trump’s other policies). “They need to respect people’s view on life. Except when it’s heresy, and I don’t think George Bush is that kind of guy.”
The controversy began on Oct. 5, when DeGeneres was spotted sitting next to Bush and his wife Laura, 72, at a Dallas Cowboys football game.
DeGeneres, who was joined by her wife Portia de Rossi, was shown chatting and laughing with Bush during the game’s broadcast.
On her talk show, DeGeneres addressed the event, pointing out that it’s a good thing when two people of different backgrounds can be friendly — even a “gay Hollywood liberal” and a “conservative Republican president.”
“A lot of people were mad,” DeGeneres said of her time with Bush, who was a guest on DeGeneres’ talk show in 2017. “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, and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different.”
“Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them,” DeGeneres continued. “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.”
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