Annoying Fan of America

On Wednesday, Bono appeared on “Good Morning America” to speak about the AIDS pandemic in Africa and comment on President Bush’s AIDS initiative.

A transcript of the interview follows.

ABC Good Morning America
Wednesday, July 9, 2003

DIANE SAWYER: As you know, President Bush is in Africa this morning. And, of course, one of the focuses, the AIDS pandemic. He’s visiting countries in which one third of all adults have the virus — one third of all adults have the virus — and 20 million lives have already been lost. Sometimes it helps, though, to put one face to this disease. And we want you to hear a little bit from Nkosi Johnson, a South African boy with AIDS who died far too young. He was just 12.


NKOSI JOHNSON: I hate having AIDS. It’s the one thing I hate the most. I wish I was normal like everybody else in South Africa. I wish this AIDS disease can go away.

DIANE SAWYER: And so does someone else. Joining us from Dublin, Ireland, this morning, from his home, Bono, superstar of U2. Very active in raising funds to fight AIDS in Africa. It has become a passionate crusade of his.

And I want to just start, if I can, Bono, by saying, can this really be arrested? Can it be stopped? Are we dealing with something virtually hopeless at this point?

BONO: No, Diane. That’s what’s extraordinary about this story. This is potentially a really heroic story. And President Bush is grasping a nettle here that a lot of people just have been afraid to. It’s going to cost us, but we can really transform the lives of a whole continent by dealing with AIDS. It’s remarkable. And to see Nkosi, a life wasted. There are so many, 7,000 Nkosi’s a day are dying in Africa. And, you know, we have medicines that we can get to them that’s going to change their, that’s going to save their lives. And actually, you know, in a strategic point of view, from the president’s point of view, it just changed the way people see America and see us in the West. It’s an incredible opportunity.

DIANE SAWYER: You have said that if something isn’t done, you’ll have 10 Afghanistans in Africa. What do you mean?

BONO: Well, I didn’t say that. Actually, a senior White House official admitted to me that, you know, look, we know there are another 10 potential Afghanistans in Africa. Though there were wealthy Saudis that perpetrated 9/11, the truth is they found sanctuary in the collapsed state that was Afghanistan. This chaos will spread through the continent unless this disease is tackled. The president has an incredible two-point plan to deal with poverty and disease in Africa. One is his AIDS initiative. And this is really, really exciting. $15 billion over five years. Now, he signed the check, and the State of the Union speech was historic.

We have to get that cashed by Congress for it to mean something. And then this other thing — where they’re going to reward countries who tackle corruption — it’s really smart. It’s new aid in new ways. And I think we have to give applause to President Bush here for this. But the applause will die out very quickly if we don’t get the cash checked next week.

DIANE SAWYER: Well, Congress is talking about cutting it, cutting the amount by one, two billion.

BONO: I think, look, that when people in Congress really see this is what America is all about on both sides of the aisle. There are Democrats who feel as strongly as President Bush. John Kerry feels strong. People, lots of people, feel very strongly. Tom Daschle feels strongly about this. In the House, there is some difficulty at the moment. They want to cut the President’s budget. They can’t. If you could see the press the U.S. is getting at the moment with this visit — this is a remarkable thing. This is the sort of America I’m a fan of. You know, I’m like an annoying fan of America. I’m the annoying fan that reads the liner notes, and I read the Constitution. I’ve read the Declaration of Independence. I mean, this is amazing stuff.

There are reasons to be excited about being an American, and this is one of them. This is like going to the moon. This is a president of the United States saying, “It’s not acceptable for 7,000 people to die everyday.” Fifteen thousand, if you want to take in Malaria, for diseases that are preventable and treatable. That’s it, really.

DIANE SAWYER: All right. That’s it. And Bono, thanks so much for being with us this morning. Again, his argument that something can be done, it simply can be done. And if you want more information, check out Bono’s web site, data African debt, trade and awareness…