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Bono Accepts Inaugural Leadership Medal At Bush Center For HIV/AIDS Work In Africa

Brandon Wade
Former President George W. Bush and U2 frontman Bono talk to the crowd gathered at the George W. Bush Presidential Center Thursday night in Dallas.

The George W. Bush Presidential Center hosted a black tie dinner Thursday night with prominent guests as the backdrop for the presentation of the inaugural "Medal for Distinguished Leadership."

Though former President George W. Bush tested the formal tone of the evening right away, when he handed the award over to U2 frontman, Bono.

"Do you like pewter?” 

They've been described as an "odd couple," but Bush and Bono spent a comfortable hour on stage together sharing a lot of laughs — Bush admitting he initially thought Bono was the guy married to Cher, and Bono taking a stab at Bush's Texas accent.

"And I said, ‘You're really popular around here Mr. President,’” Bono recalled. “And [Bush] said, ‘When I first came here, people used to wave at me with one finger.’”


The bulk of their conversation, however, centered around their common goal of eradicating poverty and preventable disease. Bono won the award for his humanitarian work in fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. 

"I would count — outside of my musical life with U2 — PEPFAR and the Global Fund and the fight against HIV/AIDS as the thing I'm most proud of in my life," he said. 

PEPFAR, which stands for the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, is a program that hasn't just provided medication for infected men and women, but infrastructure for testing and prevention.


Former President George W. Bush presents the Medal for Distinguished Leadership to Bono Thursday night at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.

"Now, the goal of course — and Americans need to know this — is to arrest the disease enough to enable governments to catch up with it and begin to fund these programs themselves," Bono said. "But they're not ready to do that yet. Some are getting there. And the health systems piece of this is significant."

Bono says the political differences he has with Bush don't matter in the face of what they're fighting.

"You don't have to agree on everything," he said. "Just one thing, if that thing is important enough."

And Thursday night, it was important enough. Important enough to get a rock star who seldom accepts awards up on stage at a gala in Dallas.