Berlusconi commits Bono-ploitation

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Bono is lots of things—rock star, activist and really useful prop, as he provides visual shorthand that whatever lesser being he’s linked to has suddenly become enlightened. But if you care to publicize your association with him, you’d better ask him if it’s OK first: That’s what Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is learning after he featured a picture of the U2 frontman in an electoral pamphlet that was mailed to 10 million homes, under the caption: "The singer is grateful to the premier for the government’s actions to promote the poorest countries." It turns out that not only did Bono feel "exploited," but when it comes right down to it, he’s just not all that grateful. In a letter he wrote to Corriere della Sera (if your Italian’s good, here’s the link), he says, "Tragically, in the past years under this government, Italy has become the last among the 22 richest nations in terms of spending toward aid to the Third World."

—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor

Credit: Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images