The pairing left some people confused as to why the two would be laughing and enjoying each other’s company when DeGeneres is a liberal gay woman in Hollywood and Bush is a conservative Republican. But Hager thought the moment of camaraderie was “great.”
“My dad likes people that think differently than him, that believe differently, and people are surprised by this,” the “Today” show co-host told People magazine.
She described how her parents encouraged her and her twin sister to speak their minds at the dinner table.
“Barbara and I were sitting around the kitchen table, and obviously we talked about a lot of mundane things, but if we had opinions we were allowed to share them,” she said.
“I, personally, and I think so many of us, miss a time where people who have different opinions get along,” Hager added. “And I yearn for that. I want my kids to realize that we live in a world when people think tons of different things and we treat everybody with respect and kindness.”
“And so just like Ellen, my dad does that,” she continued. “And if you ask anybody that’s worked for him or knows him, plenty of the people that worked for him have different opinions or different lifestyles, thought different things and felt comfortable sharing that with him because he’s open.”
DeGeneres and Bush sat next to each other in a private suite at the Dallas Cowboys game on October 6. They were accompanied by their wives: Portia de Rossi and former first lady Laura Bush.
The Emmy-winning talk show host addressed the viral moment on her show the following week: “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 OK 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,” she added.
“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. Doesn’t matter.”
A statement shared by Bush’s spokesman, Freddy Ford, to Fox News at the time noted: “President and Mrs. Bush really enjoyed being with Ellen and Portia (de Rossi) and appreciated Ellen’s comments about respecting one another. They respect her.”