“I admire Ellen for standing up and saying what she said.”

Elton John has defended Ellen DeGeneres’ friendship with George Bush.

Last week, the television host was pictured with the controversial politician at a football game, sparking backlash from fans on social media because of the anti-gay policies he implemented during his presidency.

She addressed the criticism on the latest episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, telling the audience: “When we were invited, I was aware that we were going to be surrounded by many other people from different views and beliefs.

“During the game they showed a shot of George and me laughing together and people were upset. They thought, ‘Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?’”

The star then showed the audience a photo of her and Bush from the game.

“Here’s the thing. I’m friends with George Bush. I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have,” Ellen continued. “We’re all different and I think we’ve forgotten that it’s okay that we’re all different.

“Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean I’m not going to be friends with them. When I say, ‘Be kind to one another,’ I don’t only mean only the people who think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone.”

In an interview with NPR, Sir Elton said he “admired” Ellen for “standing up and saying what she did”.

“George Bush has made a lot of mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes. Ellen DeGeneres has made a lot of mistakes. People need to come together,” he explained. “They need to respect people’s view on life.”

“Except when it’s heresy, and I don’t think George Bush is that kind of guy.”

Avengers star Mark Ruffalo didn’t feel the same way. He wrote on Twitter: “Sorry, until George W. Bush is brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War, (including American-lead torture, Iraqi deaths & displacement, and the deep scars—emotional & otherwise—inflicted on our military that served his folly), we can’t even begin to talk about kindness.

Jamila Jamil also wrote, “Ooooof learning today about the full extent of Bush’s heinous presidency… we weren’t taught much about him at school, we just heard he was stupid…(we were dealing with our own epic nightmare of a prime minister back then). What a monstrous leader. I now understand the rage.”