Magazine article Newsweek

The Trials of Mary Bono

Magazine article Newsweek

The Trials of Mary Bono

Article excerpt

Sonny's widow tries to make her mark in the wilds of Washington.

Mary bono was nervous. she was neither a swift-witted lawyer nor a sharp-tongued pol and, as the most junior member of the House Judiciary Committee, she was the last lawmaker in line to question Ken Starr. After what was sure to be a long day of political grandstanding, she worried her time at the microphone would go unnoticed. Bono huddled with staff and talked to plugged-in Republican women. Their advice: play to her weakness. When Bono finally got the floor, she was more Kathie Lee than Bob Barr. She joked about being a Washington outsider, sympathized with Starr's family, and asked, "What motivates you to keep going forward?" Bono was citizen Jane--the everywoman in a room of blowhards.

Or was she? When Bono was elected to Congress last April, she sold herself as a carpooling mom who just wanted to carry on the legacy of her late husband, Sonny, killed three months before in a freak skiing accident. That changed soon after she came to Washington. She started dating again--a country-Western drummer who, Bono has said, makes her feel like she's "in high school." This week, in a TV Guide interview, she's sharing what she thinks caused Sonny's death--an addiction to prescription painkillers that impaired his judgment and caused him to ski into a tree. Bono says she's going public to help other

families struggling with dependency. But critics are questioning her motives, wondering if the California Republican's transition from grieving widow to image-building politician happened a little too quickly. …

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