by Gina Serpe
Time is on Bono's side.
After a whirlwind year--the Live 8 organization, a Nobel Peace Prize nomination, flirtation with the World Bank, an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and album chart domination--the U2 frontman has a new item to tack on the old CV.
He has been named one of Time magazine's "Persons of the Year," alongside fellow do-gooders Bill and Melinda Gates.
"For being shrewd about doing good, for rewiring politics and re-engineering justice, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring the rest of us to follow, Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono are Time's 'Persons of the Year,' " the magazine said.
The trio was honored during a year of tremendous worldwide charity-giving, said Time, citing the South Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina as primary causes for donation. But the Bono-Gates troika went above and beyond the call of duty.
"Natural disasters are terrible things, but there is a different kind of ongoing calamity in poverty and nobody is doing a better job in addressing it than Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono," said Jim Kelly, Time's managing editor.
The humanitarian rocker was singled out for his participation in reducing global poverty and improving overall world health, issues which came to a head during the G8 summit in Scotland this summer. Bono met with several world leaders to address the problems.
"Bono charmed and bullied and morally blackmailed the leaders of the world's richest countries into forgiving $40 billion in debt owed by the poorest," the magazine notes.
"Bono's great gift is to take what has made him famous--charm, clarity of voice, an ability to touch people in their secret heart--combine those traits with a keen grasp of the political game and obsessive attention to detail, and channel it all toward getting everyone, from world leaders to music lovers, to engage with something overwhelming in its complexity."
Bono's efforts have even elicited high praise from both sides of Congress.
"I knew as soon as I met Bono that he was genuine," the staunchly conservative former Sen. Jesse Helms, who worked with Bono on his AIDS awareness campaign, told the magazine.
The How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb singer shared cover space with the Gates, whom Time praised for building the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's largest philanthropic organization. The foundation has a $29 billion endowment and, according to the magazine, has spent 2005 "giving more money away faster than anyone ever has."
The couple's foundation has invested in vaccination programs in Third World countries, donated computers and Internet access to 11,000 libraries and sponsored the biggest scholarship fund in history. All told, the duo's charity work has saved more than 700,000 lives.
"When an Irish rock star starts talking about it, people go, yeah, you're paid to be indulged and have these ideas," Bono told the magazine. "But when Bill Gates says you can fix malaria in 10 years, they know he's done a few spreadsheets."
Bono first met the Gates in 2002, when he approached the billionaire couple to talk about their common benevolent interests. The rocker told Time that the charitable works dwarf Bill Gates' day job as Microsoft mastermind and richest man in the world.
"And the second act for Bill Gates may be the one that history regards more," said Bono.
Copyright Â© 2005 E! Entertainment Television, Inc. All rights reserved.