By Nicole Lyn Pesce
Politics is really going to the dogs.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice picked up his bulldog, Babydog, during his State of the State address on Thursday night, and told critics including Bette Midler to “kiss her hiney” in a viral moment caught on camera.
After discussing his state’s economic progress and accomplishments, the Republican governor concluded that “absolutely too many people doubted us.”
He continued, “They never believed in West Virginia … they told every bad joke in the world about us.”
Justice seems to have been referencing “Ruthless People” actress Midler’s Dec. 20 tweet calling West Virginia “Poor, illiterate and strung out” while criticizing Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) for voting against President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan.
The governor wrapped up his Thursday evening address with, “And so from that standpoint, Babydog tells Bette Midler and all those out there, kiss her hiney!”
He then picked his pooch up for emphasis, and turned her around so that her backside faced the cameras. (The canine seemed to take it in stride.)
Many in attendance laughed. Watch it here:
The footage of the doggie derriere went viral overnight, and “Bette Midler,” “Jim Justice” and “Babydog” were still trending on Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR -9.67% into Friday afternoon.
“This has been the year of Babydog, hasn’t it?” he added. Indeed, Justice and his wife Cathy first brought their bulldog out to a press briefing early last year, and the dog has since become a regular mug at media events. In fact, Babydog was also the face of West Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccine lottery “Do it for Babydog ” last year.
“If you won’t do it for your family, you’ve got to get vaccinated for Babydog. That’s all there is to it,” Justice said last spring. The state was giving away a million-dollar grand prize, some additional cash prizes, college scholarships, pickup trucks and more through a series of lottery drawings for West Virginians (including students) vaccinated against COVID-19.