Friday, October 24, 2014

Wrestling with the truth

I saw the name of Jesse Ventura in the news the other day. Ventura, a large man known as James George Janos when he was born in 1951, is known for being large and also for being a politician, actor, author, US Navy SEAL, and a professional wrassler known as Jesse "The Body" Ventura.

He was in the news because he won a defamation suit against another former SEAL who had claimed that Ventura, who opposed our intervention into the Mideast conflicts,  once stated that the United States "deserved to lose a few guys" there and that the SEAL, Chris Kyle, punched Ventura out in response in a barroom brawl.

Well, you know how these "he said/he said" things go.  It took years to wend its way through the courts, and by the time the trial concluded this summer, Kyle had been shot to death in an unrelated incident.  The court awarded Ventura a sizeable judgement against the profits earned by a book Kyle wrote that related the punchout tale, seemingly because it was felt that Kyle came up with the story to make his story more interesting.

And that's not even the most interesting thing about Ventura, about whom controversy swirls like carrots in a blender (there are those who claim he never really was a SEAL.)  Think back to 1998, when the biggest threat facing our nation was Monica Lewinsky hooking up with President Clinton.  There was a governor's race that fall in Minnesota, and, having served as mayor of Brooklyn Park, MN (population 75,000), for a four-year term, "The Body" offered himself as a Reform Party candidate.  What happened stunned everyone in Minnesota.  So many voted for old Jesse as a statement against politics as usual that he won! Ventura got 773,713 votes, against the Republican Norm Coleman's 717,350.  Hubert H. Humphrey III, of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, came in third with 587,528.

A man named "Fancy" Ray McCloney,  running as the "People's Champion," came in with a respectable 919 votes.

His honor the former governor
Of course, his term as governor was marked with controversy spawned by ineptitude and his failure to understand that he was now the governor of a fairly large state and not a wrassler anymore.  He referred to the reporters who covered him as "media jackals," and appeared on David Letterman's show once. Letterman asked, "Which is the better city of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis or St. Paul?"  And Governor Ventura responded, "Minneapolis. Those streets in St. Paul must have been designed by drunken Irishmen."

So, you can understand why he only served one term and has been absent from ballots anywhere ever since.  His political career always reminded me of the "Barney Miller" episode in which Harris went out west and came back with one of those bolo ties as a joke gift for Barney...but Barney didn't know it was a joke, and started wearing the tie all around.

You only get one vote in each election, and it's not something to use as a joke.

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