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ISSUE 118 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 4/8/2005

Ventura ‘tells it like it is’: Former governor slams media, hypocrisy

By Emelie Heltsley
News Editor
and Jean Mullins
News Editor

Friday, April 8, 2005

In his first public appearance at a Minnesota college since leaving office, former Minnesota State Governor Jesse Ventura spoke in Boe Chapel Monday to a capacity crowd explaining why he is the "most dangerous man in America."

Ventura gave himself this moniker because he "defeated both the Democrats and the Republicans not once, but twice" in elections.

Ventura gave an exclusive interview with the Manitou Messenger, noting that he has not spoken with any other Minnesota press since leaving office in 2002. In the interview, Ventura explained that his beginnings in politics grew out of dissatisfaction with local government in Brooklyn Park, Minn. He felt that the people were being ignored by those in power.

When he decided to run for mayor, politicians in office told him that there was no way he could win. "No one tells me 'can't'," he said.

Ventura mentioned that the move from professional wrestling to politics helped him become more comfortable in front of the camera, speak extemporaneously and promote his image.

The most important national issue for young people in America, according to Ventura, should be the war in Iraq because, "it's going to kill them."

As for pertinent issues affecting young people in Minnesota, he encouraged young people to get involved saying, "Young people are constantly complaining that no one listens to them, but they do not vote."

Ventura recommended that students believe "About half of what the media writes," claiming that "There is nothing worse than a stupid voter."

Ventura noted the unique political culture in the state of Minnesota. "Minnesotans have always been progressive," he said. The two states with the highest 2004 Presidential election voter turnout – Minnesota and Maine – have also had the only independent governors.

As the former governor began speaking to those assembled in Boe, he prefaced his speech entitled "Tell It Like It Is," by addressing what he sees as a current trend in America. "It seems if you speak out against [the government] today, you are considered unpatriotic," he said. "I'm here to tell you it's a sign of strength."

Ventura spoke candidly on many topics, ranging from his political career and beliefs to his relationship with the media to his pro-wrestling and acting careers.

Ventura first discussed what he sees as an attack on the First Amendment. He used the example of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its role in determining what is "morally reprehensible" in the media and subject to fine by the government. He noted that politicians appoint FCC officials, and that the money from the fines goes into a “general fund.”'

"[These fines] shouldn't be hidden," Ventura said. "The janitor in the building should know [where the money goes]."

Ventura then addressed the conviction of Martha Stewart for "lying to the government," and asked, "what happens when the government lies to us? We go to war."

He compared the Vietnam War, in which he served as a Navy S.E.A.L., to the current war in Iraq. Both wars stemmed from what he called "lies from the government," regarding both the Gulf of Tonkin and weapons of mass destruction. Ventura cited the media's portrayal of both wars, calling them the "publicists for the administration."

Ventura commented on the Second amendment, claiming it, "is there so we have the ability to defend ourselves if our government becomes oppressive." Regarding gun control and the recent Red Lake Nation shooting, he said, "Don't blame the guns, blame the idiot who pulls the trigger."

Ventura also offered his opinion on a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He wondered how gay marriage could affect his 30-year marriage. "The Constitution should be there to protect rights, not take them away," he said.

Ventura believes that "if you let the general public vote on civil rights, there's no telling what they'll do." He said that, depending on how a question is worded on a ballot, people can inadvertently vote away their civil rights. At the same time, Ventura said that politicians should be confronted by the people when civil rights are in danger.

In reference to third parties, Ventura mentioned the 1992 presidential election when third-party candidate Ross Perot was allowed to debate with the Democratic and Republican candidates on television. For the 1996 presidential election, however, Perot was excluded from the debates. He said that the exclusion of Perot resulted from the Federal Debate Commission replacing the League of Women Voters, a neutral organization, as the organizers of the Presidential debates.

"[Presidential] debates have been stolen from us," Ventura said. "And they call wrestling fake.” Ventura expressed his hope in the young people of America, saying that he would "love to see students take over the third party movement."

Throughout his interview and speech, Ventura attacked the media for what he feels are misrepresentations of himself and his family during and after his governorship. He called the media "pedophiles," saying that, like pedophiles, they attack the children of political figures and are repeat offenders. "When the media goes after a politician's family, they are damn wrong," he said.

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