Vintage Ventura on Display in New Book
Saturday, January 05, 2008
By PATRICK CONDON, Associated Press Writer
MINNEAPOLIS — Former Gov. Jesse Ventura may prefer Mexico to Minnesota these days, but his ex-constituents will still recognize his style if they pick up his upcoming book, "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me!"
Ventura uses the book _ part personal memoir, part political rant _ to rail against organized religion and the media, detail his brushes with celebrities and suggest that he should be viewed as a possible presidential candidate.
"Is it worth it to put my family and me out there, to take on a force that most of the American people are willing to go along with?" Ventura writes in the book, due in stores in April. "The government is supposed to be us, and it's not us anymore. It's been hijacked. Just when is somebody going to do something?"
The former pro wrestler hasn't reined in the outrageous opinions that often got him in trouble when he was governor from 1999 to 2003. The book is constructed as a loose travelogue of his and wife Terry's drive from Minnesota to Baja California, Mexico, where they now spend much of their time, but it leaves plenty of room for Ventura to digress into his obsessions.
He discusses at length the assassination of President Kennedy. He scorns the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, and claims that during a trip to Dallas as governor a police officer warned him to avoid talking too much about "things that certain people don't want brought to light."
Ventura also airs his suspicion that "somebody in the government" sent people to infiltrate a government course he taught at Harvard University in 2004, on a day he discussed Kennedy's assassination. He repeatedly shows a fascination with conspiracy theories and surveillance, recalling several encounters he had with CIA agents while governor and claiming that his wife found an electronic listening device at their private home during his term.
He also discusses what he sees as the folly of organized religion. He argues that Catholic Church leaders should face racketeering charges for covering up sexual abuse by priests, then writes: "If Jesus came back today, I think he'd throw up."
Ventura recounts meeting Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, with whom he spent time during a trade mission and found to be engaging and perceptive. He says he asked Castro about Kennedy's assassination and that the Cuban leader denied involvement but also believed Oswald did not act alone.
A harsh critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Ventura says his doubts "have grown steadily" about the backstory to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"I think that bin Laden and al Qaeda were responsible for September 11th," Ventura writes. "But I also think it wasn't without some knowledge from our side."
Still, for someone who scorns all sides of the political debate, Ventura speculates on how his presidential bid would unfold. He ends the book with a series of fictional newspaper articles describing an insurgent 2008 campaign, with environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr. as his running mate.
While the scenario starts off lighthearted _ Ventura kicks off his candidacy at a Wrestlemania event _ it takes a macabre turn in the end when he is shot by a Cuban exile upset over his opposition to the U.S. economic boycott against Cuba.
"While independent presidential candidate Jesse Ventura _ in a coma for the fourth consecutive day _ clung to life with family members gathered at his bedside, a White House press spokesman denied mounting allegations that accused assassin Raul Santana was part of a wider plot," one entry reads.