Bono was awarded the inaugural George W. Bush Medal for Distinguished Leadership Thursday for his work in combatting the HIV/AIDS crisis and poverty in Africa.

The U2 frontman joked his bandmates would fire him after he skipped rehearsals in Montreal to participate in a Q&A session with the former president, with the whole thing being livestreamed from the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.

Bono called the award a “huge honour,” before adding that around 21 million lives had most likely been saved by the work Bush had started.

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The politician replied, “The truth of the matter is, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief [PEPFAR] never would have made it out of Congress had you not been engaged. The first time I met you, you knew more statistics, like you were coming right out of the CIA.”

He then called Bono the “real deal” and “a guy who has got a huge heart,” explaining: “[He] cares so deeply about the human condition that he spends an enormous amount of time and capital on saving lives.”

The pair also praised American taxpayers for all of their help so far. However, Bono expressed his concerns over whether the Trump administration would mean they end up moving backward rather than forward with their mission.

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“Tackling a virus like this,” said Bono, “if you’re not as fast or faster than the virus, it’s outrunning you. So all the progress that we made over the years can be undone. Right now with this administration, we have some problems because they’re talking about turning back.

“And I think we’ve got to be very hardheaded by making the argument for saving lives. It would be a very un-American thing to get all the way to the moon and not put an American flag on it.”

The duo’s chat also saw them pay tribute to the former president’s mother, Barbara Bush, who sadly died earlier this week, with Bono bringing out his favourite photo of her, taken back in 1989.

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