M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Tuesday, June 18, 2002  

Minnesota readers, show of hands: how many of you voted for Jesse Ventura?

Now, how many of you would have voted for him if you thought he would actually win?

Damn, all of a sudden it’s like a Saudi Arabian klepto convention in here.

I admit it. I voted for The Body partly because I didn’t think he had a shot, and partly because I wasn’t terribly impressed with the other guys. But mainly because I didn’t know that Fancy Ray McCloney was running. With his mom.

Jesse liked to talk about how “we shocked the nation.” Whatever. Nobody was as shocked as Jesse. He recovered quickly, though. In record time, he convinced himself that his 33.4% share of the state’s 10%* voter turnout indicated a massive groundswell of popular support that would allow him to decisively grab the reins of government and steer the North Star state unmolested into a new utopia of peace, prosperity, and legalized prostitution. Velcrometer has obtained (never mind how) a page of the governor’s day planner from his first week in office. It reads, in part:

Sunday: Inaugural gala.
Monday: Implement unicameral legislature.**

Ever since Jesse’s first faceplant into political reality, he’s been acting more and more put upon all the time. He’s like a kid who gets his learner’s permit and then gets all pissy when his dad tells him that No, Really, That Red Light Means Stop.

“The people of Minnesota have had enough of politics as usual,” Jesse would respond shirtily, and before anyone could answer him he’d get broadsided by a gas truck. Again.

He did accomplish some stuff. I can afford to buy license tabs now without having to sell my car, and there were those rebates from a few years ago (everybody calls them “Jesse checks,” as if the governor had reimbursed our state taxes with funds from his personal account). Plus there are any number of things he got done that I’m too ignorant to know about.

Unfortunately, his screwups got a lot more attention. He blames the media for that, but nobody could have dinged Jesse as badly as he dinged himself. There was the Playboy interview, in which he unwisely trashed organized religion and expressed a desire to be reincarnated as a bra. There was the Letterman appearance, where even Dave cringed at Jesse’s hamfisted “drunk Irish” crack. I wouldn’t mind the transgressions themselves, but Jesse’s petulant attitude whenever somebody called him on his behavior—and someone always did—was unimpressive. A big mouth and a thin skin do not make for a good combination in an elected official. You don’t get to have both, Jesse. Pick one or go home.

Well, he announced today that he’s going home. Given his very public and increasingly lengthy foul moods, I can’t say I’m surprised.

Jesse’s a big one for wanting it both ways. He said he wanted to be treated like an elected official and not a celebrity, then got all grumpy when the media took him at his word. He pursued public office, but whenever somebody questions anything that goes on outside his office he turns into J. D. Salinger. He defended his gigs refereeing for the then-WWF and announcing for the then-XFL, saying they were totally separate from his gubernatorial duties, but is Vince McMahon going to keep calling him after this year?

I’m ambivalent about the Ventura years. I’d feel better about him if his default response to criticism from any direction weren’t an outstretched finger pointing somewhere, anywhere else. He’s not a mature guy. He’s not a smart guy. But he’s not a bad guy. Plus it’s kind of cool, if occasionally embarrassing, to have one of the two or three governors whose name everybody in the nation knows, and the only governor in the country who was on The X-Files (a Darin Morgan, episode, no less). Will that happen with Moe or Pawlenty? I think not.

So, yeah. It wasn’t always good, but it was different. If nothing else, Jesse blew the dust out of a few valves that had gotten pretty grimy over the years. Showed us that there’s more than one way to do things, and that’s worth something.

But take it from me, America. Ten years from now, if you’re trying to choose a POTUS from between a career politician from a rich old Republican family, a career politician from a rich old Democratic family, and The Rock? Keep this in mind: if you’re thinking “what the hell,” over a third of your fellow voters are probably thinking the same thing.

* These statistics are made up. Jesse got 37% of the vote. I could look up voter turnout for that election, but whaddya know? Apathy strikes again.
** These notes are made up. The truth is too bone-chilling to relay here.

posted by M. Giant 4:14 PM 0 comments


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