"As President, George W. Bush did something momentous that few of you may know about, something so momentous that it is saving millions of lives and generating goodwill for America around the world."
So astonishingly began a "60 Minutes" segment last Sunday actually praising the former President that likely got worse press than anyone ever to reside in the White House.
"Millions of Africans who`d been dying of AIDS are now living with AIDS, thanks to the Bush program," said CBS's Bob Simon.
"There has never been a rescue mission, a mission of mercy of this magnitude that has produced such magnanimous results," praised an AIDS doctor in Uganda (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
BOB SIMON: As President, George W. Bush did something momentous that few of you may know about, something so momentous that it is saving millions of lives and generating goodwill for America around the world. Millions of Africans who`d been dying of AIDS are now living with AIDS, thanks to the Bush program. The U.S. is providing pills to more than two million people with HIV/AIDS, people who could never afford them and who were condemned to die. The medicine not only saves their lives, it permits them to live full lives. We went to Uganda, where AIDS has ravaged the country, killing more than a million people. And where Doctor Peter Mugyenyi, a pioneer against AIDS, told us how grateful he is to Americans for saving his fellow Ugandans.
DR. PETER MUGYENYI: We thank sincerely the American people. They are the people who are saving lives. They are the people who can be proud that lives are being saved on this continent.
BOB SIMON (voiceover): President Bush created the program in 2004 with the bipartisan backing of Congress. Last year, Congress raised the funding to about seven billion dollars a year for the next five years.
You`ve called this the greatest aid effort in modern times.
DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Absolutely. There has never been a rescue mission, a mission of mercy of this magnitude that has produced such magnanimous results.
(People playing musical instruments)
BOB SIMON (voiceover): He told us Africans now see America differently.
DR. PETER MUGYENYI (voiceover): The impression that people in Africa have of America is that America is no longer the world`s policeman. It is now Africa`s friend. What an image.
What an image indeed, especially from a network and a news program that attacked Bush at practically every turn:
BOB SIMON (voiceover): And how about this image. All of these exuberant looking children--every one of them has HIV or AIDS. They would all be dead or dying if it weren`t for America. Now, they`re alive and thriving.
(Woman speaking foreign language)
BOB SIMON (voiceover): Viola is thirteen. Her mother died of AIDS and she was dying from it, too, until she began taking those drugs provided by the United States. We met Viola at her home where she lives with her aunt.
That`s a lot of pills to swallow at once.
VIOLA: I take them every day.
BOB SIMON: And you never forget?
Viola: I can`t forget.
BOB SIMON: What would happen if you forgot to take your pills?
Viola: I think I can die.
BOB SIMON (voiceover): Viola will be fine, but Doctor Sabrina Kitaka, a pediatrician, remembers all the children who died before America came to the rescue six years ago. She had two thousand children who needed lifesaving drugs but only enough pills to treat thirty of them. So, she sent home more than nineteen hundred children with only vitamins and hope-- a false hope, because all but the thirty chosen children died.
You were, in fact, playing god.
DR. SABRINA KITAKA: But we had no choice.
BOB SIMON: No choice because she had no pills. Ed Bradley saw that when he came here ten years ago and talked to Doctor Mugyenyi when the situation looked hopeless.
ED Bradley (voiceover): In bed after bed, Doctor Mugyenyi showed us patient after patient who couldn`t afford drugs, either to fight the virus or the diseases it brings. This man had arrived at the hospital two weeks earlier.
What would that cost to give him the drugs-- other patients the drugs that they need?
DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Six hundred dollars per month.
ED BRADLEY: And a man like this, how much would he make a month?
DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Maybe, five, ten dollars per month.
BOB SIMON (voiceover): Even after pooling their resources, his family didn`t have the money for treatments. They decided to take him home to die. But today, generic drugs have made AIDS pills much cheaper. Treating one patient for a year used to cost more than seven thousand dollars, now it`s less than three hundred. As HIV destroys a person`s immune system leading to AIDS, patients need these powerful pills--antiretrovirals, they`re called or miracle pills. To stop the virus, most patients have to take two to six pills a day. Now with the U.S. paying for the pills, AIDS patients are no longer doomed. Doctor Mugyenyi can give them all the drugs they need and send them home smiling.
DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Absolute miracle, because this kind of situation, Lazarus syndrome, people being resurrected from the dead was inconceivable only five years ago.
BOB SIMON: The Lazarus syndrome--
DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Yes. This is--
BOB SIMON: --rising from the dead.
DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Rising from the dead.
Wow. The segment later referred to an African musician saved with America's help:
BOB SIMON (voiceover): A Ugandan singer named Supercharger wrote a song thanking America because he has AIDS and pills supplied by America are keeping him alive. He`s paid, partly with American AIDS money, to teach children how to avoid AIDS while he entertains them.
Amazing. A song thanking America as a result of something created by George W. Bush.
They say that the prestige of most Presidents improves with time after they leave the White House.
After vilifying Nixon for years, some in America's press warmed up to him before his death and certainly subsequent to it.
The media clearly have a deeper affection for George H. W. Bush now than they did when he was the Commander-in-Chief.
With that in mind, will the disgraceful Bush Derangement Syndrome we've witnessed since shortly after America invaded ever stop, and this "60 Minutes" piece is a sign of that?
Or is this just an anomaly, and once we get full-swing into the campaign season of the midterm elections, the gloves will come back off, and our 43rd President will once again be the grand target of media disaffection?