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'True' confessions from Barbara Walters and Vito Fossella

May 1, 2008 |  6:23 pm

Confession may indeed be good for the soul, but spurring book sales and trying to tamp down a potential political problem apparently are also good motivators.

Which brings us to two revelations today that involved political figures.Barbara Walters of The View went on the Oprah Winfrey show and told of her alleged affair with Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts

In the first, Barbara Walters, onetime newswoman and current co-host of "The View," told Oprah Winfrey (and her studio audience) that back in the 1970s she had an affair with then-Sen. -- and then-married -- Edward Brooke, a Republican from Massachusetts. Walters sat down with Winfrey to promote her new autobiography, "Audition: A Memoir;" the chat is set to air Tuesday.

An Associated Press story covers more of what Walters (shown here in 1976) had to say. What caught our eye was this line: "Calls to a listing for Brooke in Miami [by the AP] were not immediately returned Thursday."

Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts was the first black sent to the Senate since ReconstructionWe wouldn't hold our breath waiting for a call back from Brooke (shown here in 1978). At 88 years of age (Walters is 78), he's long since removed from the public scene.

(UPDATE: The former senator eventually did get back to the Associated Press, saying: "I have had a lifetime policy and practice of not discussing my personal and private life, or the personal and private lives of others, with the notable exception of what I wrote in my recently (2006) published autobiography, `Bridging the Divide: My Life.'")

No doubt many tuning into next week's show will have never before heard of Brooke, but he was a groundbreaking figure -- the first black politician sent to the Senate since Reconstruction (and there have only been two more: Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois and a fellow named Barack something, also from Illinois).

Brooke served two Senate terms (1967-79); Democrat Paul Tsongas upended his bid for a third one. In his day, Brooke was a reminder that -- hard as it may be for some to now imagine -- the GOP once had been the natural home for blacks and that a moderate brand of Republicanism thrived in the Northeast.

The other admission of note came from ...

Rep. Vito Fossella, a Republican from New York (his district is made up mainly of Staten Island).

Early in the afternoon, reports began circulating that Fossella had been arrested overnight in the D.C suburb of Alexandria, Va., for driving while intoxicated.

Fossella, a 10-year veteran of the House, quickly sought to get ahead of the story by 'fessing up. His office released the following comment.

“Last night I made an error in judgment. As a parent, I know that taking even one drink of alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a car is wrong. I apologize to my family and the constituents of the 13th Congressional District for embarrassing them, as well as myself.”

Left unsaid, of course, was exactly how many drinks Fossella consumed before driving. So perhaps he didn't quite get ahead of the curve (forgive us).

-- Don Frederick

Photo credits: Associated Press