Was Bette Midler serious or joking, when she said at a Tuesday night “From the Big Apple to the Big Easy” fundraising concert in New York City, as recounted in a Rolling Stone posting: "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.' She then added, 'George Bush is a fan of mine -- he came to see me in the Seventies. His coke dealer brought him.'" Rolling Stone characterized that as an example of how some celebrities “angrily denounced government officials” and how Midler employed “even stronger words” than used by another singer. In contrast, however, the AP's Nekesa Mumbi Moody treated Midler's comments as comedy: “Except for a joke about President Bush by Bette Midler -- which promptly got her booed -- the evening's focus was not on the divisive politics of the tragedy, but on the music that has brought communities together in its wake.”
Still shot from Entertainment Tonight story on concert. UPDATE follows with transcriptions of Midler's remarks and link to audio posted on RushLimbaugh.com.
Rolling Stone's un-bylined posting, which the DrudgeReport picked up, also noted, “There was nothing but love for one former Oval Office resident, however: Bill Clinton's surprise appearances at both concerts were greeted with long standing ovations.”
Neither article said so, but I believe the two simultaneous Manhattan concerts -- at Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden, were carried on pay-per-view cable TV.
UPDATE: As a comment poster below noted, Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday played some audio clips from Midler's act and it's clear that she was not being lighthearted and that the audience did not boo her. For a transcript of Limbaugh's commentary. For Windows Media audio of that part of Limbaugh's show during which he played the Midler clips.
Here are the RushLimbaugh.com transcriptions of three clips from Midler at the Tuesday night concert:
> “I could stand up here and talk for hours (cheering) about ineptitude, stupidity (louder cheering), blame, in-e-qual-i-ty, global warming (cheering), the dangerous destruction of the wetlands. But if I did, what will all those other people have to talk about? I'm telling you these are -- these are not just dangerous times, these are -- these times are disastrous. We're surrounded by disasters! The war, the hurricane, Fox News. (cheering) It just goes on and on. I get so depressed!”
> “A terrible thing happened to me. Today I got a letter from the Republican Party thanking me (boos) thanking me, thanking me for supporting this administration's policies. I did what any self-respecting American of integrity and class would do, I wrote 'Go [bleep] yourself!' (wild cheering) I sent it back! Postage due!”
> “I would never actually pick on George Bush, because, you know, he's a big fan of mine. He came to see me in the seventies, came to a show of mine in the seventies. A coke dealer of his, uh, got him some tickets, and... (cheers) Tonight we are here to be together, to help rebuild the Gulf coast, to help -- help rebuild the soul of America, the soul of America, New Orleans, New Orleans. We have to find a way to start listening to each other, to nature, and to the rest of the world, because who wants to live with so much danger.”