The governor of West Virginia flashed his bulldog’s butthole at the camera during his State of the State address Thursday night in an apparent effort to tell off the state’s haters, like Bette Midler, following a wave of outrage directed at Sen. Joe Manchin.
Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat and centrist, basically killed the Build Back Better bill, President Joe Biden’s signature policy proposal, last month. In response, Midler tweeted that Manchin wanted the rest of the U.S. to be like his “poor, illiterate and strung out” state.
The 76-year-old singer, actress, and activist apologized for the offensive comments soon after, saying she’d been “seeing red.”
But that didn’t cut it for West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, the coal baron and former Democrat who announced his allegiance to the GOP during a 2017 Trump rally.
During the folksy last moment of his speech Thursday night, Justice brought his bulldog, appropriately named “Babydog,” to the podium, much to the crowd’s pleasure. Justice said Midler could kiss Babydog’s “hiney,” which he enthusiastically displayed before an audience of lawmakers, C-SPAN, and God. The invitation triggered a standing ovation. (Babydog is a hit in West Virginia, as she might be anywhere; she’s a feature of the state’s vaccine incentive campaign.)
“God bless you,” said Justice, who focused other portions of his address on the state’s economic achievements. “I told you I’d make you smile!”
Midler was hardly the only person upset by Manchin’s declaration that he couldn’t support Build Back Better, which doomed the bill days before Christmas. The legislation would have extended the expanded child tax credit, widened health care coverage, created a national paid leave program, and more.
The fate of Build Back Better—or the yet-to-be-named ghost of it—still rests with Manchin, who Democrats are now basically seeking to please, not piss off. Manchin has said he’s open to talking about a revival of the legislation, though it’s likely to be far more limited in scope.