Interview Date: 10/04/2010
Run Date: 10/18/2010
Jesse Ventura started out as a wrestler, evolved into an actor, and then turned heads by turning into a politician. Now, he’s the host of “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura,” which has just kicked off its second season on truTV. Bullz-Eye had a chance to talk to Minnesota’s most bad-ass former governor (only possible competition: Knute Nelson) about the new season of his series, and in addition to the discussion about various conspiracies, you will probably not be surprised to find that he had a great deal to say about the state of the government.
Jesse Ventura: Good morning, Will! How are you today?
Bullz-Eye: I’m good…and I’m glad to hear that you’re doing better today.
JV: (Laughs) Yeah, I am, absolutely!
BE: Good to hear. Well, for those who may not even be aware that you have a series, how did “Conspiracy Theory” first get started?
JV: Well, actually, it was me and my people, my agents and the people I’ve worked with for many years, we were sitting down one day and just talking things over, and…I don’t know how it flushed to the murder of John F. Kennedy, but, of course, I’d been studying that murder for over 25 years, and I just started passionately speaking about things that were covered up, things that are probably unknown to the general public, and this and that. And Mark Itkin, my agent at William Morris, kind of looked around the room, and he said, “You know, this is a series waiting to happen.” (Laughs) It’s funny how things like that go. We just took it out, and truTV got very interested in it, and we’re in our second season now.
BE: How quickly do you think you found the groove of the show, as far as what you wanted to accomplish with it? I mean, you only had seven episodes in the first season.
JV: Right. Well, you know, the show’s always in transition, because it really is, in its own way, bridging a new gap of entertainment, I guess, in the fact that we take people who actually lived the event, and they become the actors in relating it to me, with no script writers, no anything like that. You don’t put words in their mouths, because they just simply talk about their life experience of what went on, depending on what the event is or was, and we just allow them to interact with me. It’s kind of a new form of reality television.
BE: I’ve seen descriptions which refer to it as a reality show filtered through an action movie.
JV: Yeah, it kind of ends up being that. Initially…well, also, the show always evolves, because originally we were going to show both sides of the conspiracy and then let you, the viewer, choose what to believe. But the show quickly evolved to the conspiracy only, because when one side…generally meaning the government…won’t cooperate in any way, shape, or form, it becomes very difficult to tell their side of the story. So we just let their side go, because they’ve pumped us full of propaganda on their side of the story, anyway. Everybody knows their side of the story. So now it’s evolved to us showing the conspirators’ side of the story…which, in most cases, there’s a great deal of evidence that always indicates the government could be wrong and the conspiracy could be correct.
BE: With any of the episodes that you’ve done, has there ever been a case where you went in with one mindset and came out with a completely different one?
JV: Off the top of my head… (Hesitates) Yeah, I would say that Area 51, I fully believe that there’s not aliens there, that it’s being a red herring propped up by the government to keep everybody interested and to keep a cottage industry going out there. But the reality is that it’s just government testing stuff and playing along and making the locals believe that they live by the aliens. I mean, when they call it Extraterrestrial Highway… (Trails off) There’s a lot more people who chuckle over Area 51 than don’t, but this is a danger area that we want to expose: the government won’t acknowledge the base exists there, yet there’s a sign there that if you cross this imaginary line, they can use lethal force and kill you. I think that’s pretty dangerous, when you consider out in the desert, people ride dirt bikes and they think they’re out in the open and they think they’re free to do what they want, they don’t realize that if they cross this imaginary border, they can literally be shot dead. Now, that doesn’t mean that’ll happen, but apparently they have the authorization to do so. So that’s the thing about Area 51 that I want to bring out: when did trespassing become a capital crime, and whatever happened to, excuse me, going to court? At what point can they just shoot you down for crossing a line which supposedly belongs to you as a taxpayer?
BE: I know you mentioned the Kennedy assassination was what led to the initial discussions. Are you prone to being a conspiracy theorist beyond just that one?
JV: Well, I view the government as being conspiracy theorists also, because they don’t prove nothing. They just sit and tell the people their version of what happened, and it’s left at that. And theirs is generally a theory also, backed up by not much evidence. I haven’t believed that Oswald killed Kennedy for years. Anyone that gets into it will realize that it was a…well, I’ll put it to you this way: our show will air for the first time a written as well as an audio confession from a father to his son on his death bed, and he confesses to participating in the murder of Jack Kennedy…and it wasn’t Lee Harvey Oswald. He’s been dead a long time.
BE: Are you at all a fan of Oliver Stone’s “JFK”?
JV: Oh, very much so. I think that his film is far more close to the truth than the Warren Commission. There’s no doubt in my mind. Once anyone gets into… (Hesitates) See, the problem we have today is that people in the United States live by soundbite media, and they don’t do any investigating on their own. All they do is accept what the government tells them, and then soundbite media backs up the government, and they move on, we move on, and the truth is never known.
BE: What do you think of the internet’s part in conspiracies? It’s almost dangerous for research, since it provides as much false information as truth.
JV: Well, you know, you have to sift your way through. But the government provides so much false information, also. As a thinker and as someone who wants to look at both sides, you just have to weigh the evidence and see what you think has credibility and what you think doesn’t. I mean, you know, people can call me a cynic today, but my government has lied to me so often, and…I’ve been part of the government. I’ve been a mayor, I’ve been a governor, I spent six years in the Navy. My government lied to me. You know, the big question I’d like answered out there is, how come when we lie to the government we go to jail, and when they lie to us we seem to go to war? I mean, that seems like we’re getting the wrong end of the stick. How come we go to jail? Now, Roger Clemens could be facing jail for lying to the government about taking steroids in baseball, which has nothing to do with the government. Baseball is a completely outside entity that has no government control whatsoever, and yet Clemens can potentially go to jail for lying to the government…? How many times have these guys lied to us? And nothing happens to them, does it? Well, that’s the awareness that I’m trying to raise out there: we’ve got government lying to us all the time, and they suffer no repercussions from it.
BE: What was it like being in the government, given your general mindset on the conspiratorial aspects of the system?
JV: I don’t put nothing past our government. I made a statement a few months ago…and Fox News has pretty much banned me now and won’t have me on anymore…that I’m not surprised that terrorists would attack us, considering that we’ve been practicing terrorism for 50 years. We just simply call our brand “foreign policy.” And if you want examples, look at Cuba. I mean, we’ve attempted to assassinate their president on multiple times, we’ve bombed their harbors, we’ve attempted to destroy their economy, we’ve attempted to destroy their sugarcane fields, and…are you familiar with this character Orlando Bosch? He blew up a Cuban airliner with 173 civilians on it, and he was pardoned by George Bush, Sr. Now, is that not an act of terrorism?
BE: It would seem to be, certainly.
JV: It seems to me to be, too. You see, our country…we live in a hole. I mean, I don’t know how to describe it, but we don’t seem to want to view ourselves out in the international world and ask the question, “Why do we need such a huge military?” Well, obviously, the rest of the world doesn’t like us very much for our behavior out in there. Otherwise, why would we need such a military? Why do we have fear? Clearly, we’re doing things that are pissing people off…and it isn’t what George Bush told us, where they’re envious of our freedoms. If that’s the case, then why did they take our freedoms from us? So that they wouldn’t be envious of us, and we won’t be in danger anymore? (Laughs) If you get where I’m going.
BE: I do, indeed.
JV: (Laughs) I mean, it gets laughable. So, in other words, you’re going to take our freedoms from us, then no one will be envious anymore, then we’ll all be safe...but we’ll live under martial law. And, also, the show shows some very interesting stuff about how our Congress doesn’t even know what’s in bills. They vote on things that they have no idea what’s in it, because they’re told how to vote by the two political parties. So they don’t have to know anything. The parties run the countries now. That’s what John Adams warned us would be the downfall of America: when political parties took over. And that’s where we are right now. But getting back to the conspiracies…I mean, it all fits in. If we’re being deceived on many of these big events that happen throughout the world, then how can the government have any credibility on anything else?
BE: Do you see yourself trying to get back into political office again in the future?
JV: No. Not at this time. You never say never, but I have no desire. I’m gettin’ too old now to be involved, to take up these years of my life doing that.
BE: Obviously, your career’s still ongoing, but what do you think will ultimately end up being your greatest legacy, given the various aspects of politics and entertainment you’ve been involved in?
JV: I don’t care. (Laughs) That stuff doesn’t even resonate with me. I live life to the fullest. I don’t want to get to age 80 and say, “Woulda coulda shoulda.” I try everything, and it just happens this is a road I’ve gone down now, looking into conspiracies and having a lot of fun doing it. I mean, you meet a lot of interesting people.
BE: This is conspiracy-related, I guess: how was the experience of working on “The X-Files”?
JV: It was probably the best acting I ever did. The scripts are so challenging, shall we say, and the dialogue and all that. When I first read the script when I was on “X-Files,” I didn’t even know what it was about. It was very confusing to figure it out. But when it got on film, it became very clear what they were doing. But it was very good writing on “The X-Files.” I enjoyed doing it.
BE: A friend of mine wanted me to ask you if you think a union would be a good idea for pro wrestlers.
JV: Of course. Absolutely. Unions are beneficial for all workers, generally speaking, until the unions become corrupted themselves and eventually devour themselves. But, initially, absolutely. I tried to get a union way back in the ’80s and almost got fired for it. But then, of course, I became a member of the Screen Actors Guild, so I didn’t bother anymore, because I had my union.
BE: Do you think we’ll ever see one in wrestling?
JV: I don’t know. It’s not up to me. I tried. But I’ve been gone from that business for 20 years. If they want to go without one… (Pauses) Wrestling’s very corrupt. It always has been, as far as following regular employment rules. The worst thing they do is call wrestlers “self-employed,” which is a joke. I’ve always wondered how the government has let them get away with that for 50 years, because we’re certainly not self-employed. We never have been self-employed.
BE: Did you see the film “The Wrestler”?
BE: I just wondered what you had thought of it, if you had seen it.
JV: I could care less about it. I lived it. Why do I need to see it?
BE: Fair enough. Well, jumping back to politics, how do you think we can fix the current political situation, which has been described as verging on suicidal deadlock?
JV: Easy: we just have to abolish the political parties. See, I’ve changed my position now. I no longer advocate the third party anymore, because it’s clear to me that the system is so corrupt that for a third party to survive and compete, it would have to corrupt itself, like the other two. We’ve already got a two-headed monster. Why would we need a three-headed one? My new position…and six months ago was when I took this position…is the abolishment of political parties. Turn them into political action committees. Remove the power that they have, because everything in the country is done to benefit the political party today. Nothing is done to benefit the United States of America. Like I said, John Adams warned us. He said the downfall of America wouldn’t come from the outside. He said it would come internally, and he even told us how: when political parties take over the government. That’s what we have today: the political parties have taken over the government. And until we stop voting for Democrats and Republicans, we’re going to get what we deserve. It’s as simple as that.
BE: Is there any candidate outside of the party system that you think has a shot?
JV: No. The thing is, we have to abolish these parties. You want to hear a good story?
JV: The state of Minnesota pays the Democratic and Republican Party caucuses out of taxpayer money. Now, I was an independent governor, and I brought up the fact, “Why does my taxes pay for these two parties when I don’t belong to them?” Do you see how corrupt the system is set up? I mean, they even get their parties financed by the taxpayers. And what if you’re an independent like me? I’ve never belonged to them two parties. Why should my taxes go to support them? My next book…well, one of them, anyway…is going to be called “The Demo-Crips and the Re-Blood-licans,” and it’s subtitled, “No Gangs in Government.” These are no different than the Crips and the Bloods, only they wear Brooks Brothers suits. They’re as corrupt as can be, and in which to flourish, you have to pay your homage to the party…and the party controls you.
BE: So, basically, you’ll have no end of conspiracy theories to work with on your series…except that, in many of these cases, they’re not theories.
JV: (Adamantly) They’re not theories. What makes the show great is that we seem to have an unending supply of categories. The government’s so corrupt, it’s laughable. I mean, you can look anywhere in the government today and find a potential conspiracy where they’re covering something up or doing something bad.
BE: Have you had any subjects that you wanted to cover but have been rejected?
JV: (Hesitates) Yeah. Generally, we…like, when we went from first to second season, we did seven the first year, and I was kind of lost. And I called the production company when we got picked up for eight more, and I said, “Do we have eight more to do?” And they laughed and said, “Yeah, we’ve got 20. We’re just paring it down to eight.” So apparently we can get picked up a third year, too. They’re out there. And maybe a fourth after that, because there’s so many of them. Our dishonest government today, they can’t tell us the truth about anything.
BE: Well, I guess what I was really wondering was if there had been any topics for possible episodes that had been rejected.
JV: Yeah. We fight over them, of course. But we’re not like the Democrats and Republicans. We won’t go to a stalemate where nothing will happen. Eventually a decision will be made, and we’ll move forward, and we’ll do eight that the network is eventually happy with. Oh, yeah, I’ve fought with them over ones that I want to do and ones that they particularly want to do. In fact, Kennedy, they wouldn’t let me do it ‘til the second year. That was one we fought over. They said that, the first year, they wanted to keep everything within the decade, which I could see that. And they said, “If we pick you up for a second year, we’ll let you go back and do Kennedy.” And they were of their word, because we’re in our second year, and we did Kennedy this year.
BE: I think I’m coming up against the wall, time-wise, but it’s been a pleasure talking to you…
JV: Thank you!
BE: …and I’m interested in seeing how the season unfolds.
JV: Well, like I said, watch ‘em with an open mind. They’re very interesting. I’m the one who covers what no one else will touch, like 9/11. We’re all told we’re unpatriotic if we ask a question about that, but there are thousands of them that need to be answered.
BE: I look forward to seeing what some of your questions are.
JV: Oh, you will. You’ll see. (Laughs)