Thursday on "The View," the cohosts reacted to the backlash Ellen received for first hanging out with the former president at a football game and then addressing the criticism on her show by telling her audience to "be kind to everyone."
Why were people so angry? Bush's tenure included a very unpopular invasion of Iraq, a very tardy federal response to Hurricane Katrina, and an opposition to same-sex marriage.
Abby Huntsman was the first to address the controversy and she was clearly pro-Ellen.
"How much time we're wasting tweeting out negative things about other people when we should be spending time with our children, with our family or, heaven forbid, friends who might think differently than we do," she began.
Adding that she was "upset" about the backlash Ellen received, Huntsman said, "How about we get out of people's lives, stop judging people for what they're gonna do, who they're going to sit next to." Abby, who left the Mormon Church after not agreeing with its beliefs, added that she still has love for all her friends and family members who are still religious.
Joy Behar didn't agree with Huntsman. "I always say I didn't want to meet George W. Bush because I knew I would like him, he seems like a likable kinda guy," she admitted. "[But] if you lost a child in Iraq, then you don't like him so much." She could relate to those angry with Ellen by adding, "I don't see myself hanging out with Donald Trump anytime in this lifetime. It's not only about disagreeing with somebody. She's entitled to her choice, but it's not just about disagreeing with somebody."
Bringing up Bush's stance on LGBTQ issues, Sunny Hostin tried to explain the outrage further.
"When you think about the position he took about gay marriage when he was in power and had the power to do something," she began, before both Abby and Meghan McCain interrupted. McCain said Bush's position was similar's to Obama's -- without mentioning Obama later became the first sitting president to support same-sex marriage -- while Huntsman said Bush was being criticized for opinions he held years ago.
"In 2004, when he was in a position to do something for it, he pushed for a constitutional amendment to make sure marriage was defined as between a man and a woman," Hostin countered, adding that, to her knowledge, Bush has never come out and stated his opinions have evolved at all. "I think when you are a woman like Ellen who came out and changed the lives of so many people in the LGBTQ community, I can understand why there were people that were put off by seeing her," she added.
Meghan noted she was "somewhere in the middle" on the issue and said she doesn't "choose who I'm friends with based on their political background, unless it's truly radical." For her, the hardest thing to swallow about the situation was the "revisionist history" with the Bush administration in general, recalling all the criticism against the former president back in the day.
It was Whoopi Goldberg who ended the discussion, saying Ellen may not have had a say in where her seats were and, if she were in her shoes, she'd relish the opportunity to spend time with someone who had opposing views.
"The man who owns the Cowboys sent tickets and she ended up sitting next to Bush. These are two gay women. If [Bush] has got a problem, he's gonna be real uncomfortable," said Whoopi. "I'd be leaning on him, I'd be hugging, I would be messing with him. If you have the opportunity to take a second to show people your humanity, why wouldn't you try?"
She then said people need to be given "the opportunity to at least try to change" and "try to grow."
Witherspoon has since deleted her support of Ellen, after retweeting a video from DeGeneres' show with the message, "Thank you for this important reminder." Mark Ruffalo also began trending on Wednesday for taking a stand against the host's friendship, tweeting, "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."