Gov. Jim Justice has a message for singer and actress Bette Midler, who tweeted that West Virginians were “poor, illiterate and overwhelmed” after Senator 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 picking up his English bulldog and showing its rear end to cameras and the crowd.
“Babydog says to 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 achievements, including two recently announced economic development projects.
“Too many people have doubted us,” he said. “You never believed in West Virginia. … They’ve told every bad joke in the world about us.”
The crowd in the gallery of the House of Representatives included legislators, state supreme court judges, agency heads and members of the courtroom coaches of the high school girls’ basketball team seated in the gallery.
Midler fired back in a tweet with a state ranking from an unnamed source that shows West Virginia at the bottom in healthcare, education and the economy. Said Midler the dog’s pooch would make a better governor, though she used a stronger word than that.
Not everyone was amused by justice. In a tweet, West Virginia Democrat Del. Shawn Fluharty called the governor’s move “embarrassing and under office”.
“The @WVGovernor took his babydog and pony show to the state of the state and pulled this stunt as a bold statement. It was downright embarrassing and under the office,” he said. “Jim Justice usually lowers the bar on our state. They don’t laugh with us, they laugh at us.”
Manchin, a Democrat, has effectively topped up the $2 trillion domestic policy initiative signed by his party 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, like his state, want to move forward, not backward, is horrible,” Midler tweeted. “He sold us. He wants us all to be like his state of West Virginia. Poor, illiterate and drained.”
After receiving backlash, Midler apologized “to the good folks at WVA” for her “outburst” in a follow-up tweet later that day.
the Associated Press emailed Midler’s publicists on Friday for comment.