It would have been impossible to imagine back in 2004 when George W. Bush pushed for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that 13 years later he’d receive a hug, a kiss on the cheek, and even a box of fun toys for his new puppy from the most famous (married) lesbian in the country — Ellen DeGeneres — but it happened on her show on Thursday.
Bush has been in the news recently while promoting Portraits of Courage, his book of paintings of veterans. He appeared a bit wary of DeGeneres at first, but they found common ground regarding her friendship with his daughter Jenna Bush. DeGeneres assured him that she loves his family, and she soon got him talking — a little bit.
Although he’s managed to keep a relatively low profile amidst questions about the Trump administration during his press tour, he has judiciously spoken out about a few of Trump’s moves since the inauguration.
DeGeneres began to probe Bush by saying, “I have to ask you what you think of what’s going on now.”
"This isn’t the first time our nation’s ever been divided. I remember what it was like when I got out of college. There was the Vietnam War and a draft. There were major race riots. There were political assassinations, the president was nearly impeached, and a lot of people thought the country was going down the tubes,” Bush said. “And it turns out we’re too strong to go down the tubes.” He added that he was optimistic.
He was a little more forthcoming with his opinion when DeGeneres brought up Trump’s attempts to silence the media, saying that when he was president he often offered up the United States as a glowing example of a free press when speaking with “tyrants” in other countries.
“The nation needs a free and independent press. Power can be very corrupting and we need a press corps to hold politicians to account, including me,” Bush said. “Power doesn’t make you immune to criticism or to corruption investigations…”
Although DeGeneres didn’t ask his opinion on the subject specifically, Bush pointedly shared his views on religion. “I’m a big believer in free religion. You can worship or not worship and you’re equally American,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how you worship or who you worship.”
Finally, DeGeneres attempted to get Bush talking about Vladimir Putin, whose leadership Trump has openly praised. And Bush definitely had a bone to pick with Putin, whom he said “dissed” his Scottish Terrier Barney back when Bush was in office. He said Putin brushed off his dog only to show off a giant hound to Bush a year later saying, “Bigger, stronger, and faster than Barney.”
Bush concluded of Putin, “He’s got a chip on his shoulder.”
Watch the exchange with DeGeneres below.