Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and his strongly held, sometimes outrageous opinions will soon be back on public display in his new book, “Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me.”
The book — part Mexico travelogue, part memoir, part screed — details his brushes with famous people; his feelings about his governorship; and hints, teases and jokes about a possible 2008 run for president.
In the book, co-written with author Dick Russell, Ventura says he suggested to then-President Clinton that certain disputed Israeli sites should be blown up to stop the fighting over them; he consulted with then-Vice President Al Gore about a Minnesota abortion debate; and he offered to be Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2000, if the Republican ran as an independent candidate.
He also reveals some continued bitterness about the tough time he had governing Minnesota from 1999 to 2003.
“In our country, there is a certain ruling class that won’t give up the power,” he writes. “I know I had to be destroyed because of what I represented and how I got elected. There was a ripple of fright that what happened in Minnesota could be a trend.”
This is Ventura’s fourth book. He previously wrote or co-wrote: “Jesse Ventura Tells It Like It Is: America’s Most Outspoken Governor Speaks Out About Government,” published in 2002; “Do I Stand Alone? Going to the Mat Against Political Pawns and Media Jackals,” published in 2001; and “I Ain’t Got Time to Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up,” published in 2000.
Here are other excerpts from a review copy of the book, which will be in stores in April.
ADVICE TO PRESIDENT CLINTON
When Ventura visited the White House, President Clinton told him he was working on a peace accord between the Palestinians and the Israelis. He quoted the president as saying, “You know, Governor, it’s so frustrating because it comes down to one mound of dirt.”
Ventura said he offered a solution.
“Why don’t you call in an airstrike and blow that hill off the face of the earth? We can say the computers malfunctioned … We blow it up, it’s gone. They won’t have anything to fight over.”
Ventura writes a stunned Clinton “didn’t say anything, but if I could put words into his mouth, they were: ‘You’ve gotta be s–ting me.'”
JOHN MCCAIN’S RUNNING MATE?
“We were sitting in my office when I looked McCain in the eye and said, ‘Senator, if you will quit the Republican Party, I will break my promise to Minnesota and I will run with you. You for president, me for vice president. And we will win the 2000 election.’
“He smiled and said, ‘I’d love to have you on board, but I can’t quit the Republican Party.’
“I said, ‘Well, if you can’t do that, then I can’t join you. Because I will not join either of these parties.'”
CIA INQUIRED ABOUT ELECTION WIN
Shortly after he took office in 1999, he was escorted to a state Capitol conference room where 23 CIA agents were waiting. He writes that they grilled him about how he campaigned and won the election. “In short, how had the independent wrestler candidate pulled this off?”
He said he learned “there is a CIA operative inside every state government. … In Minnesota, this person was at a deputy commissioner level, fairly high up.”
CONSIDERED QUITTING EARLY “I strongly considered resigning early to allow my lieutenant governor, Mae Schunk, to become governor. … With a month to go in office, the Legislature not in session and nothing much going on, I thought, why not make some more history?
“… In the end, I decided against it, because I didn’t want it on my record that I’d resigned from office. Also, although I never broached the idea to Mae … I don’t think she would have liked it.”
SOUGHT ADVICE FROM AL GORE
“I like Al Gore a great deal … I spoke with Al about the abortion bill situation. I told him the whole scenario, how I was taking a tremendous amount of heat, being called a flip-flopper and a bunch of other names because, as a candidate, I’d said I had no particular problem with the bill.
‘”What do you do in a situation like this?’ I asked the vice president.
“‘It’s simple,’ he told me. ‘You throw everything else out of the equation, and you go with what you believe is right.’
“That helped me stick to the courage of my convictions … And I vetoed the bill.”
EPILOGUE IMAGINES A PRESIDENTIAL BID
The book’s epilogue is written as a series of imagined newspaper reports.
March 2008: “(Ventura) is running on a World Wrestling Entertainment independent ticket for the presidency of the United States.”
August 2008: “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced he is quitting the Democratic Party … (and) revealed that he has agreed to become the running mate of the former wrestler and Minnesota governor.”
September 2008: “Ventura-Kennedy Ticket Surges in Polls.”
October 2008: “President Bush declared martial law across the United States on Tuesday.”
Late October 2008: “Ventura is Shot by Lone Gunman.”
Early November 2008: “Former Governor Clinging to Life; Officials Deny Shooting Part of a Wider Plot.”
LIFE AFTER BEING GOVERNOR
“It was a bizarre feeling to leave it all behind. The first week of January 2003, I sat in the audience as Gov. Pawlenty was sworn in, and, at that point, I was officially alone …
“So I became a kind of recluse. Part of me wanted that. Another part of me missed being at the center of attention — even of criticism — even though I detested the media jackals.”
RETIREMENT IN MEXICO
“In a way, here in Baja, I’m now living the life that all America dreams of — being away from the rat race. My life is far more spiritual. … The great thing is there’s no pressure. To do anything. At this point in my life, I’m enjoying that very much.”
ON PRESIDENT BUSH
His first inclination that Bush “was not a man of his word” came at national governor’s meeting in 2001. “He stated at the time that he was a strong believer in giving more power to the states, which I applaud …
“Yet just about every move he’s made since that day has taken power away from the states. Cases in point: Twelve states have now passed laws to allow the medical use of marijuana. The federal government under Bush says no way, he won’t let the states do this …
“It’s a shame that Bush has turned into what he has.”
“… In his first six-plus years, he virtually bankrupted the country, and now we’re nine trillion bucks in hock. That may not be an impeachable offense, but it sure seems like a committable one.”