Gov tells Bette Midler to kiss dog’s ‘hiney’ -- and shows it

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice holds Babydog, his English Bulldog, during his State of the State address, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at the Capitol in Charleston, W.Va. ((AP Photo/Leah Willingham), Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – 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 hiney,” 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.

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, Midler apologized “to the good people of WVA” for her “outburst” in follow-up tweet later that day.