Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia took his flair for the dramatic to new heights on Thursday, bringing his pet bulldog into the House of Delegates to hammer home a point of pride.
Justice, who caused his sign-language interpreter to crack up, made Babydog the star of his State of the State address, and The Charleston Gazette-Mail captured the moment.
Justice, a Republican who defected from the Democratic Party early in President Donald Trump’s term, has pulled several stunts and given notable quotes in his tenure as the Mountain State’s leader. He 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.
Omg.— Alex Thompson (@AlexThomp) January 28, 2022
WV Governor Jim Justice during his state of the state address lifts up his his dog and turns her but to the camera while saying:
“They told every bad joke in the world about us…so from that standpoint, Babydog tells Bette Middlet and all those out there, kiss her hiney” pic.twitter.com/bdJlOXhtez
In response to a tweet from Bette Midler — the winner of multiple Emmy, Grammy, and Tony awards — in which the star called West Virginians “poor, illiterate and strung out,” Justice brought out Babydog.
“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 heinie.”
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.