Bono: 'I Want to Change the World'

"I think he [Bush] will enjoy it," said Carter. "[Bono] talked me into it. I said, 'Fine, I agree with you then.' It wasn't my natural first choice, but if it works for him, it works for me."

Bono defends his decision. "People don't know that Condoleezza Rice and George Bush really fought for Africans on antiretroviral drugs," he said. "And even though I fight with them about everything else, you've just got to give up for that."

This March, Bono was quoted in The New York Times as saying, "Hey, I'd meet with Lucifer if I thought it would do any good." Many people felt he was talking about President Bush. "I wasn't," said Bono.

"I couldn't disagree more with a lot of the things [that] have happened in the last few years, post-9/11," he said. "President Bush knows that. I was against the war in Iraq. But I wouldn't want that to obfuscate his leadership."

Bono said the president was very responsive when the two met. He said the president provided real leadership in providing 1.5 million Africans with antiretroviral drugs, when there were none three years ago.

"What I said to President Bush was, 'Look, these drugs were an amazing advertisement for America,'" said Bono. "I think he genuinely felt it offended him that people were dying for the stupidest of reasons, a lack of two pills a day."

Bono's Deepest Desire

Bono admitted that money alone won't solve Africa's problems. "When you're a kid, when I was even in my 20s, I thought that the poverty in Africa could be solved by a deep pocket," he said. "But then I'm older and I meet somebody like Bill Gates. And you realize that as deep as his pockets are, charity won't solve this problem. He knows that. There's a structural aspect of poverty."

Bono has worked on the Africa issue of Vanity Fair for more than three months, his goals as lofty as his highest notes.

"Deep down, what is my deepest desire on all this stuff? I really believe that we can be the generation that ends extreme poverty. I really believe that," he said.

"The greatness of America lies with ordinary people, regular folks, who say, 'That isn't right. Three thousand kids dying of malaria every day for lack of a bed net. We can fix that.' I've learned that."

Despite the acclaim Bono has received for his humanitarian work, he's not looking to give up his day job.

"I think my work here as an activist and as a lobbyist has taken a lot of time, but it just means when I do get into a studio and I do get to meet my band mates I feel like I can really be myself," he said.

The March New York Times article said that Bono has "a touch of the messiah complex," which he said is a fair assessment.

"Give me a rock star who doesn't open his arms," he said. "I'll tell you what my messianic complex is -- I want to have fun, and I want to change the world. That's it."

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