West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has a message for singer and actress Bette Midler, who called West Virginians “poor, illiterate and strung out” in a tweet after Sen. Joe Manchin refused to support President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act.
The 70-year-old Republican governor ended his televised State of the State address Thursday night by lifting up his English bulldog and flashing its rear end to the cameras and crowd.
“Babydog tells Bette Midler and all those out there: Kiss her heinie,” Justice said, grinning as people applauded and some gave him a standing ovation.
Justice had spent more than an hour touting the state’s accomplishments, including two recently announced economic development projects.
“Absolutely too many people doubted us,” he said. “They never believed in West Virginia. … They told every bad joke in the world about us.”
The crowd in the House of Delegates gallery included lawmakers, state Supreme Court justices, agency heads and members of the high school girl’s basketball team Justice coaches, who were sitting in the gallery.
Midler responded in a tweet late Friday (Jan. 28). She posted a ranking of states from an unnamed source that showed West Virginia in the bottom tier among states in categories such as health care, education and the economy, commenting that the governor’s dog’s heinie would make a better governor than him, though she used a stronger word than that.
BTW, here are the state rankings of all the areas and agencies for which the so-called “Governor” of WVA, #JimJustice, is responsible. Judging from these rankings, I’d say his dog’s ass would make a better Governor than him! pic.twitter.com/TJAB3oj5VV
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) January 28, 2022
Not everyone was amused. In a tweet, West Virginia Democratic Del. Shawn Fluharty called the move “embarrassing and beneath the office.”
“The @WVGovernor 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,” he said. “Jim Justice habitually lowers the bar of our state. They don’t laugh with us, but at us.”
Manchin, a Democrat, effectively tanked his party’s signature $2 trillion domestic policy initiative that would have poured billions of dollars into child care, health care and other services.
“What #JoeManchin, 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.”
After receiving backlash to her initial tweet, Midler apologized “to the good people of WVA” for her “outburst” in follow-up tweet later that day.
The Associated Press sent an email to Midler’s publicist Friday requesting comment.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice flashed his pet bulldog's butt to critics during his state address on Thursday, telling Bette Midler and others to "kiss her hiney."
Midler has criticized WV Sen. Joe Manchin, saying "just like his state," he is "poor, illiterate and strung out." pic.twitter.com/jOEcFnuQKc
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 28, 2022