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George W. Bush defends media, warns of Putin on Ellen

The former president appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show for the first time

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“I’m happy to be off the stage…except this one,” former President George W. Bush said during his first appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. During the episode, which airs on Thursday, Bush defended the media against President Donald Trump’s attacks, while warning about Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“I said something the other day and, of course, the headlines were ‘Bush criticizes Trump,'” he said. “Here is what I believed when I was president, post-president: The nation needs a free and independent press, and the reason why is that power can be very corrupting and we need a press corps to hold politicians to account, including me. And yeah, I didn’t like it sometimes when people said things, you know, about me, but you know, that’s the job. I’m going to drop a big word on you — symbiotic relationship.”

Bush said he had to explain to “a lot of these tyrants” during his term that “power doesn’t make you immune to criticism or to corruption investigation.” When DeGeneres asked if he was referring to Putin, whose reported ties with Trump have caused great concern, Bush said, “I had a contentious relationship with him and I think whoever the president is, is going to find out that Putin will push and push and push until someone stands up to him.”

Case in point: Bush recalled a time when Putin insulted his dog, Barney. “He looked at him like… ‘You think that’s a dog?'” he said.

When Bush and then-First Lady Laura Bush were in Russia years later, Putin asked if they wanted to see his pup. “Out comes a giant hound kind of loping across the yard and Putin looks at me and says, ‘Bigger, stronger, and faster than Barney,'” Bush recalled. “It speaks volumes when you listen to what somebody says. So, in other words, he’s got a chip on his shoulder.”

Watch Bush on Ellen in the clip above.