Ellen DeGeneres has defended her friendship with George W. Bush, telling confused fans that it’s “okay we’re all different”.

On Sunday, the presenter watched American football teams Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers go head-to-head alongside her wife Portia de Rossi.

But, after photographs surfaced of DeGeneres speaking to and laughing with Bush who also attended the game with his wife, former First Lady Laura Bush, the talk show host was met with a wave of angry tweets.

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Many of DeGeneres’ fans wondered why she, a gay woman, would be friendly with a former president who called for a constitutional ban on gay marriage, among other policies that seem at odds with her beliefs.

On Tuesday, DeGeneres addressed the backlash during The Ellen DeGeneres Show, saying, “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 we’ve forgotten that that’s okay, that we’re all different.”

The presenter used the example that while she wishes people didn’t wear real fur, she has a lot of friends who do.

“But just because I don’t agree with someone on everything, doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them,” DeGeneres said. 

“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.”

Earlier in the segment, DeGeneres said she was invited to the game by the owner of Dallas Cowboys’ daughter, Charlotte Jones. 

She also showed a video she took herself from the game that featured Bush and his wife smiling and laughing next to her. 

In reference to the social media response to the photos, DeGeneres said that people “did what people do when they’re mad – they tweet.”

“People were upset. They thought, ‘Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?’” DeGeneres added. 

“But here’s one tweet that I loved: this person says, ‘Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again.’”

The reactions to seeing DeGeneres and the former president sitting side by side ranged from bemused to critical.

“So quirky and fun to see George Bush out with Ellen at a Cowboys game after his terrible foreign policy decisions killed thousands of innocent people,” one person wrote.

Another added: “Laura & George Bush sitting with Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi is not something I expected to see at an NFL game. I would absolutely watch this sitcom though.”

While a third person commented: “Name a more weird couple.”.

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