Chris Dorst/AP

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A feud with Bette Midler, in which the actress was forced to apologize for calling West Virginia “backward” as she condemned Joe Manchin last month, has landed in just the place such dumb, non-controversies deserve: the humiliation of a dog and her butthole on official state grounds.

That’s what happened Thursday when Republican Gov. Jim Justice pushed back on Midler during his second state of the state address, telling critics of West Virginians to kiss his bulldog’s “hiney.” 

“They told every bad joke in the world about us,” Justice said. “So from that standpoint, Babydog tells Bette Midler and all those out there, kiss her hiney!”

He then held up Babydog’s rear end for emphasis, sending cameras flashing as photographers captured snaps of the bulldog’s butthole.

The crowd seemed to love it, though it’s unclear how wielding his dog’s butt will earn West Virginians the respect Justice says they deserve. But I guess that was never the end he desired.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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