Ky. Senator Teams With U2's Bono To Spread Democracy

By Justin Wilfon

(PHILADELPHIA, Pa., May 21st, 2004) -- A rock star from Ireland and a senator from Kentucky may not seem to have much in common, but U-2's lead singer, Bono, and Senator Mitch McConnell certainly do. They first met several years ago while working on issues in Washington, but now they're taking on one of their biggest challenges yet, and they've teamed up to do it. WAVE 3's Justin Wilfon reports.

Welcome to Burma -- a beautiful country with an ugly government. A military regime took over the government in a bloody coup in 1962. But now an unlikely duo are trying to get rid of it. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnel and rock star Bono.

As Senator McConnell puts it: "This regime is a bunch of military thugs."

Bono definitely agrees. "Senator McConnell is exactly right when he describes the regime in those terms. They're bullies."

The Burma regime has jailed, abused, and even killed thousands of pro-Democracy citizens. But Bono says the "toenail pullers will be gone one day."

I interviewed Bono in Philadelphia, where our country began its very successful journey. Now Bono's hoping Burma will be on a similar journey sometime soon.

He says "reason will eventually will prevail."

In January, Bono and McConnell co-wrote a letter that was published in an international newspaper in January. In it, they said the situation in Burma "must remain a top priority for the Bush administration."

"We're just getting started," McConnell said, "and we're looking for new ways to collaborate and cooperate to make a difference."

Senator McConnell also drafted a bill -- signed into law by President Bush -- which prevents any American company from doing business with Burma.

"We ought to punish them economically, we ought to isolate them, and not allow foreign dollars to enrich this regime," McConnell said.

And Bono is encouraging other countries to do the same. "We're wearing away their support by just a torrent of mail."

The end of the regime would also mean freedom for a woman close to Bono's heart: Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been a prisoner in Burma for most of the past 15 years.

That's because she has spent most of her life fighting for Democracy there.

"She's great, because she's this tiny, gorgeous girl -- woman -- who just won't be bullied. She just can't stand bullies."

Bono feels so passionately about Suu Kyi, he wrote a song about her. It's called: "Walk On."

"Her story is as courageous as Nelson Mandela and she's of that order, of a hero," Bono said.

"It's a great story," McConnell said. "It's a story that's not over, and someday Burma is going to be free."

And a rock star from Ireland and a senator from Kentucky could be the reason.

The "Walk On" song was actually banned in Burma because of its content.

Online Reporter: Justin Wilfon

Online Producer: Michael Dever