By Kevin Rutherford
When Kanye West made the startling assertion nine years ago that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” Mike Myers, who stood next to him during the Hurricane Katrina telethon segment, looked reasonably and famously like a deer in the headlights.
But as it turns out, Myers didn’t exactly disagree with the rapper when he made the bold statement.
In a new interview with GQ, the actor says West “spoke a truth” during the telethon, and that he was “super proud” to have been next to him in that moment.
“For me it isn’t about the look of embarrassment on my face, it is truly about the injustice that was happening in New Orleans,” Myers told the magazine. “I don’t mind answering the question but the emphasis of it being that I’m the guy next to the guy who spoke a truth.”
He continued, further explaining the look on his face: “I assume that George Bush does care about black people — I mean I don’t know him, I’m going to make that assumption — but I can definitively say that it appeared to me watching television that had that been white people, the government would have been there faster. And so to me that’s really the point — the look on my face is, to me, almost insulting to the true essence of what went down in New Orleans.”
Myers added that West had actually warned him that he might be “taking liberties” with the source material. However, he didn’t expect said liberties would include “calling out the president.”
“The look on my face is…to be honest with you, I thought I handled it well. I was like ‘This is what’s happening…’ Because live TV is my milieu, and improv is my training, you know. It has been painful that the culture has at times meditated on my surprise, when it’s really the message, dude. The message, the message, the message, you know.”
A YouTube video of the incident has since racked up 6 million views, with numerous duplicates also approaching that amount.
In 2010, Salon points out, West did an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show in which he referenced the statement.
“I would tell George Bush in my moment of frustration, I didn’t have the grounds to call him a racist,” he said, adding that “I believe that in a situation of high emotion like that we as human beings don’t always choose the right words.”