West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice told Bette Midler and critics to kiss his dog’s ‘hiney’ and hoisted the bulldog during his state of the state address: video

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) and Babydog, his pet bulldog.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) and Babydog, his pet bulldog.
  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice used his pet bulldog as a prop during his state of the state address. 
  • At the end of his speech, Justice defended his state by telling its critics to kiss his dog's "hiney."
  • Justice was reacting to Bette Midler calling West Virginians "poor, illiterate and strung out." 

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice took his longstanding flare for the dramatic to new heights on Thursday, bringing his pet bulldog into the House of Delegates chamber to hammer home a point of pride.

Even cracking up his sign language interpreter, Justice made Babydog the star of his state of the state address, captured by the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Justice, a Republican who defected from the Democratic Party early in former President Donald Trump's term, has had several notable stunts and quotes in his tenure as the Mountain State's chief executive. Justice made Babydog something of a mascot for his state's vaccination rollout, even naming West Virginia's vaccine sign-up website doitforbabydog.wv.gov. The pet has starred in a series of public announcements from the governor's mansion. 

Yet none of his performances to date matched that of his state of the state address in Charleston.

In response to a tweet from Bette Midler — the winner of multiple Oscars, Emmy, Grammy and Tony awards — in which the star called West Virginians "poor, illiterate and strung out," Justice brought out Babydog in response.

"They told every bad joke in the world about us," Justice said as applause grew. "So from that standpoint, Babydog tells Bette Midler and all those out there, kiss her hiney."

Midler has since apologized for the tweet, which was an attack on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia for blocking key components of President Joe Biden's legislative agenda.

Justice's speech was delayed from January 11 because of his COVID-19 diagnosis, which the 70-year-old governor said made him feel "extremely unwell" but also grateful for having been vaccinated.

"I'm thankful to the Lord above that I've been vaccinated, I've been boosted," Justice said on January 12.

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