Butt of the joke: Bette Midler fires back at West Virginia governor Jim Justice

Bette Midler had harsh words for the governor of West Virginia after he showed his dog’s backside at the end of his State of the State speech, in a bizarre rejoinder to the actor, singer and activist.

Responding on Thursday to a tweet in which Midler called West Virginia “poor, illiterate and strung out”, the Republican Jim Justice said she could kiss his dog’s “hiney”.

On Friday, Midler retweeted a picture of the stunt with the caption: “Here we can see a dog’s asshole. Right next to it is the butt of Jim Justice’s dog.”

Midler also tweeted: “Here are the state rankings of all the areas and agencies for which the so-called ‘governor’ of West Virginia, Jim Justice, is responsible. Judging from these rankings, I’d say his dog’s ass would make a better governor than him!”

The graphic, from US News and World Report, showed West Virginia scoring poorly in healthcare, education, economy and other categories and 47th overall among the 50 US states. The state tends to score poorly in such rankings.

Justice, 70, a coalmining magnate who was elected as a Democrat, is an eccentric figure who often uses his English bulldog, Babydog, as a political prop. His State of the State speech, at the capitol in Charleston, was delayed after he contracted Covid-19.

Midler angered the governor with comments in December that were prompted by her own anger towards the West Virginia senator Joe Manchin.

Manchin, a Democrat, that month sank Joe Biden’s Build Back Better spending plan. This month, he stood in the way of Senate reform to facilitate the passage of voting rights protections.

“What Joe Manchin, who represents a population smaller than Brooklyn, has done to the rest of America, who wants to move forward, not backward, like his state, is horrible,” Midler tweeted.

“He sold us out. He wants us all to be just like his state, West Virginia. Poor, illiterate and strung out.”

She later apologised to “the good people” of West Virginia.

On Thursday, Justice chose to end an address in which he said too many people “doubted” West Virginians and “told every bad joke in the world about us” by lifting up his pet and flashing its bottom to the cameras and crowd.

“Babydog tells Bette Midler and all those out there: Kiss her hiney,” he said as the crowd applauded. Attendees included lawmakers, state supreme court justices and agency heads. Members of a high school girl’s basketball team Justice coaches were present in the gallery.

Shawn Fluharty, a Democratic state delegate, said: “The governor brought his Babydog and pony show to the State of the State and pulled this stunt as some bold statement.

“It was nothing short of embarrassing and beneath the office. Jim Justice habitually lowers the bar of our state. They don’t laugh with us, but at us.”


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