Jenna Bush Hager breaks silence on dad George W. Bush's friendship with Ellen DeGeneres

Jenna Bush Hager is speaking out in defense of her father George W. Bush's controversial friendship with Ellen DeGeneres. 

The unlikely duo's relationship was spotlighted after they were spotted sitting together with their respective significant others at a Dallas Cowboys game in early October, prompting a week-long backlash aimed particularly at DeGeneres, with critics pointing to Bush's anti-gay history and divisive politics as points of contention.

At the time of the controversy, Hager was on maternity leave after welcoming her third child in August, which left her a bit out of the loop as countless celebrities and public figures weighed in on the story.

"I was on maternity leave so I didn’t read all the bad stuff, but I was also taught as a child if there was bad things being written about anybody I love, I sort of ignored that," she told People in a new interview. "I just saw the goodness in it."

The "Today" show personality said that she "personally thought [their friendship] was great," adding that she yearns for more cross-the-aisle friendships amid the United States' continued divisiveness.

"I personally, and I think so many of us, miss a time where people who have different opinions get along," Hager said. "And I yearn for that. I want my kids to realize that we live in a world when people are think tons of different things and we treat everybody with respect and kindness."

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Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Hager together
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Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Hager together
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 11: Henry Chase Hager (L) and co-author Jenna Bush-Hager attend 92Y Talks: Laura Bush & Jenna Bush-Hager on May 11, 2016 in New York, New York. (Photo by Andrew Toth/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Hager attend the 2013 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Uri Schanker/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 03: Henry Hager and Jenna Bush Hager attends the 9th annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball at Cipriani Wall Street on December 3, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/WireImage)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Hager appear on NBC News' "Today" show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: (L-R) Barbara Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, and Henry Chase Hager attend "A White House Christmas: First Families Remember" Premiere Party at Tenjune on December 12, 2012 in New York, New York. (Photo by Charles Norfleet/FilmMagic)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer, Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Hager appear on NBC News' "Today" show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 11: Jenna Bush Hager (L) and Henry Chase Hager attend 'A Candid Conversation with Jane Fonda and Andy Cohen' benefitting the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention at the Darby Downstairs on October 11, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 27: Henry Hager and Jenna Bush attend the 2nd Annual UNICEF Masquerade Ball at The Angel Orensanz Foundation on October 27, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for UNICEF)
Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Hager attend UNICEF's Next Generation Launch Event at The Gates on July 23, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jonathon Ziegler/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
DALLAS - NOVEMBER 14: (L-R) Henry Hager and Jenna Bush-Hager attend the Russell Simmons Diamond Empowerment Fund - Dallas Rocks Benefit Dinner on November 14, 2009 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
Daughters of former US president George W. Bush, Barbara (L) and Jenna (C), walk from trhe US Capitol with Jenna's husband Henry Chase Hager (R) following the inaugural ceremony for Barack Obama as 44th US president in Washington on January 20, 2009. AFP PHOTO / Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of US President George W. Bush, and her husband, Henry Hager, walk down the driveway of the White House to participate in a commemorative tree planting on the South Lawn in Washington, DC, September 27, 2008. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
CRAWFORD, TX - MAY 10: In this handout image provided by the White House, President George W. Bush (R) and Mrs. Laura Bush (2L) and Barbara Bush (L) stand with the new Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hager following the young couple's wedding ceremony at Prairie Chapel Ranch May 10, 2008 near Crawford, Texas. (Photo by Shealah Craighead/The White House via FilmMagic)
CRAWFORD, TX - MAY 10: In this handout image provided by the White House, Henry and Jenna Hager pause as they cut their wedding cake during a reception in their honor following the ceremony at Prairie Chapel Ranch May 10, 2008 near Crawford, Texas. (Photo by Shealah Craighead/The White House via FilmMagic)
CRAWFORD, TX - MAY 10: In this handout image provided by the White House, Henry and Jenna Hager pose for photographs along the lake at Prairie Chapel Ranch following their wedding ceremony May 10, 2008 near Crawford, Texas. (Photo by Shealah Craighead/The White House via WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
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"And so just like Ellen, my dad does that," she went on. "And if you ask anybody that’s worked for him or knows him, plenty of the people that worked for him have different opinions or different lifestyles, thought different things and felt comfortable sharing that with him because he’s open."

Hager continued by saying that it's in her father's nature to connect with people who "think differently than him," saying that it's a lesson that she and her twin sister, Barbara, were encouraged to live by as they were growing up, as well.

"My dad likes people that think differently than him, that believe differently, and people are surprised by this. But my parents raised both Barbara and I had to have our own opinions," she said. "Barbara and I were sitting around the kitchen table, and obviously we talked about a lot of mundane things, but if we had opinions we were allowed to share them."

DeGeneres and Bush first made headlines back on October 6, with Twitter calling them sitting together with Laura Bush and Portia de Rossi a "Sunday shocker."

The next day, the talk show host delivered a lengthy monologue defending her decision to sit with her "friend" in Dallas.

"When we were invited, I was aware that I was gonna be surrounded with people from very different views and beliefs, and I'm not talking about politics: I was rooting for the Packers," DeGeneres joked at the time. "During the game, they showed a shot of George and me laughing together, so people were upset. They thought, 'Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?" 

"Just because I don't agree with someone on everything, doesn't mean that I'm not gonna be friends with them," DeGeneres added. "When I say be kind to one another, I don't mean only the people who think the same way that you do; I mean be kind to everyone."

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Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi
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Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi during VH1 Big in '04 - Backstage and Audience at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres during HBO Golden Globe Awards Party - Inside at Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres during TNT Broadcasts 11th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Backstage and Audience at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA, United States. (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - FEBRUARY 13: (L-R) Portia de Rossi, Musician Usher and Ellen DeGeneres attend Usher's Private Grammy Party hosted by Entertainment Weekly held at the Geisha House on February 13, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi during Cheryl Howard Crew Celebrates Her New Book 'In The Face of Jinn' at Private Residence in Pacific Palisades, California, United States. (Photo by Donato Sardella/WireImage for Harrison & Shriftman)
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi (Photo by Donato Sardella/WireImage for CARTIER)
Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres during Cartier Celebrates 25 Years in Beverly Hills in Honor of Project A.L.S. at Cartier Store in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi during 32nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Arrivals at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic)
Portia de Rossi and Ellen Degeneres *Exclusive Coverage* (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Ellen DeGeneres, winner of Favorite Daytime Talk Show Host, and Portia de Rossi *** EXCLUSIVE *** (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi 10612_km0800.JPG (Photo by KMazur/WireImage for Turner)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 26: (L-R) Actress/TV show host Ellen DeGeneres and actress Portia de Rossi attend the launch of Frank Gehry's premiere jewelry collection for Tiffany & Co. on March 26, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi during Tiffany & Co. Celebrates The Launch Of Frank Gehry's Premier Collection On Rodeo Drive - Arrivals at Tiffany & Co. Store in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres during 2006 Annual Matrix Awards at Waldorf Astoria in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic)
Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi *EXCLUSIVE* ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Mathew Imaging/FilmMagic)
Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres during 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Red Carpet at Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi during GQ / Calvin Klein Celebrity Poker Tournament Benefiting Peace Games at Private Residence in Los Angeles, California, United States. ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Donato Sardella/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 09: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS) Actresses Ellen DeGeneres (L) and Portia de Rossi pose during the 33rd Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 9, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images for PCA)
Ellen DeGeneres, winner Favorite Talk Show Host and Portia de Rossiand Portia de Rossi (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres *EXCLUSIVE* (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for J Records)
Portia de Rossi and Ellen Degeneres during 2007 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted by Graydon Carter - Arrivals at Mortons in West Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Tony Barson Archive/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 15: Comedian/host Ellen DeGeneres (L) and actress Portia Di Rossi kiss in the audience during the 34th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on June 15, 2007 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres, winner Outstanding Talk Show Host and Outstanding Talk Show (Photo by Chris Polk/FilmMagic)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: TV Personality Ellen DeGeneres and actress Portia de Rossi during the 59th Annual Primetime EMMY Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on September 16, 2007 in New York City. *EXCLUSIVE ACCESS* (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD - FEBRUARY 24: TV personality Ellen DeGeneres and actress Portia de Rossi attend the 16th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Party at the Pacific Design Center on February 24, 2008 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
KODAK THEATER, CA - JUNE 20: Portia de Rossi and Ellen Degeneres during the 35th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Kodak Theatre on June 20, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chris Polk/FilmMagic)
19TH ANNUAL GLAAD MEDIA AWARDS -- Air Date 04/26/2008 -- Pictured: (l-r) Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres arrive at the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards held at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, CA (Photo by Phil McCarten/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi arrives at Yes! On Prop 2 Party hosted by Ellen DeGeneres And Portia de Rossi on September 28, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - AUGUST 09: Actress Portia di Rossi (L) and TV host Ellen DeGeneres pose during the Teen Choice Awards 2009 held at the Gibson Amphitheatre on August 9, 2009 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/TCA 2009/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 30: Actress Portia de Rossi (L) and TV personality Ellen DeGeneres attend the 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at The Orpheum Theatre on August 30, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/DE/Getty Images for ATI)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 22: Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi arrive at jewelry designer Neil Lane's debut of his new Bridal Collection with Kay Jewelers at a star-studded Hollywood launch party at Drai's, The W Hollywood Rooftop on July 22, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 07: Ellen Degeneres and Portia De Rossi visits 'Late Show with David Letterman' at the Ed Sullivan Theater on September 7, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 05: Actress Portia Del Rossi and TV personality Ellen DeGeneres arrive at COVERGIRL 50th Anniversary Celebration at BOA Steakhouse on January 5, 2011 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/Getty Images For COVERGIRL)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - JULY 22: TV Personality Ellen DeGeneres and actress Portia de Rossi arrive at the 2012 Teen Choice Awards at Gibson Amphitheatre on July 22, 2012 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 04: Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres attend DeGeneres' induction into the Hollywood Walk of Fame on September 4, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Actors Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi arrive at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Portia di Rossi and partner Ellen DeGeneres appear on stage during the filming of Ellen's television show on a floating stage above Sydney Harbour on March 23, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. DeGeneres is in Australia to film segments for her TV show, 'Ellen' (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 26: TV personality, Ellen DeGeneres and her wife Portia de Rossia arrive at a Ellen DeGeneres Welcome Party on March 26, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. Ellen DeGeneres is in Australia to film segments for her TV show, 'Ellen'. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 26: TV personality, Ellen DeGeneres and her wife Portia de Rossi arrive at a Ellen DeGeneres Welcome Party on March 26, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. Ellen DeGeneres is in Australia to film segments for her TV show, 'Ellen'. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
'JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: AFTER THE OSCARS(r)' SPECIAL - The 9th annual 'Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars(r)' Special airs Sunday, March 2 after the late local news ET/CT and at 10:00 p.m., PT on ABC. Broadcasting from Disney's El Capitan Theater located on Hollywood Boulevard in the heart of L.A.'s star-studded Walk of Fame, the studio is just steps away from Dolby Theater, home to the Academy Awards(r). (Photo by Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images) PORTIA DE ROSSI, ELLEN DEGENERES, JIMMY KIMMEL
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres attend the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 07: TV personality Ellen DeGeneres (L) and actress Portia de Rossi arrive at The 41st Annual People's Choice Awards at Nokia Theatre LA Live on January 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 21: Portia de Rossi (L) and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres arrive at the 26th annual GLAAD media awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 21, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images)
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