Jesse Ventura Interview: "I Got Donald Trump to Admit George Bush Was an Even Worse President Than Obama"
Image attributed to Jesse Ventura
Former Minnesota Governor, former pro wrestler, actor, bestselling author Jesse Ventura hosts Ora.tv’s Off the Grid, an online only political talk show with over three million views on YouTube. New episodes are available Tuesday through Friday. He is also the host of the new podcast, We the People with Jesse Ventura.
Ventura is a regular Smashing Interviews Magazine contributor.
"I got Donald Trump to admit George Bush was an even worse president than Obama (laughs)."
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Governor, it appears you are in the news once again as the judge recently ruled there will be no new trial in your lawsuit against American Sniper author Chris Kyle.
Jesse Ventura: And the best part about is was his quote at the bottom where they said they wanted a new trial, but the federal judge who presided over the trial ruled last Wednesday that substantial evidence supported the verdict. Substantial evidence. It didn’t happen. It’s that simple. It never happened, and they couldn’t fabricate in a courtroom that it did happen, yet they told me I was an underdog. I tried to figure out how the truth could be an underdog.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Well, the truth won out anyway. Congratulations!
Jesse Ventura: It absolutely did. I’m very pleased over it. Very pleased. Thank you.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You have been very outspoken against the Keystone XL pipeline bill that died in the Senate. Do you think that the new Congress will pass it next year?
Jesse Ventura: I’m sure they will. They’re republicans, and republicans always side with corporations and big oil. Both parties would let the big corporations truly run our government through their donations to the democrats and republicans with bribery the way the system is set up, so I suppose it will pass. It’ll end up where President Obama decides to veto it or not. I hope that he will.
They’re deceiving the American people into believing that somehow this pipeline will help wean us off foreign oil. It will do nothing of the sort. It’s so that the oil up in Canada will be brought to the Gulf, loaded on tankers and transported throughout the world. This is simply international oil companies doing international business, and we’re going to help them.
First of all, in this country, they have us very terrified that we’re going to be attacked any moment by terrorists, which I don’t believe, but that’s how they have the general public feeling. Well, wouldn’t this pipeline be a natural target? Who’s going to protect this, the government of the United States with our tax dollars, or will the oil companies hire private security companies? I don’t know. I think that question needs to be answered.
The bigger picture is the United States needs to be leading the world in finding alternative energy to oil. Oil’s old news. It’s time we look and start moving beyond the world of oil. It’s inevitable that we do. It’s destroying our environment the longer we keep doing it, and we should be a leader in that. To me, building this pipeline is a step backwards. It’s a step back to the old energy that we’ve been strapped with which is oil when we ought to be pursuing alternative energies and fuels to help us in the future.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What about the environmental impact of the pipeline?
Jesse Ventura: Oh huge! What if this thing springs a leak? You know why it’s going to the Gulf? Because British Columbia wouldn’t allow it to go through British Columbia. They wanted to take it straight out to Western Canada, and British Columbia wouldn’t do it. Then they turned and said, “Okay. We’ll run it straight south and take it to the Gulf as a second alternative.” There’s already plenty of oil in the Gulf. British Petroleum showed us that when their oil thing leaked.
Why do we need to be sending potentially more environmental oil that could destroy the environment down to the Gulf from Canada? They say it will create jobs. Yeah, it’ll create jobs initially building it, but I’ve heard after it’s up and running, there will only be about fifty jobs. People think it’s going to help us get off of Middle Eastern oil. Why do you think they’re sending it to the Gulf? To put it on ships and to take it to other parts of the world.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I’ve read there could possibly be health risks involved for those laying the pipeline.
Jesse Ventura: I’m sure there could be all sorts of risks for that. There could be many beyond what you or I know about. I just don’t fathom seeing a bigger pipe dividing our country like the Mississippi River (laughs). It has so many available places where disasters could happen. It makes no sense to me at all.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What do you think of President Obama’s immigration reform plan?
Jesse Ventura: I think it’s a great practical move politically. You have to remember executive orders on immigration … Ronald Reagan did it, George H.W. Bush did it. How come a democrat can’t do it? That shows it’s political. Congress wouldn’t do anything. They’ve had an immigration bill now for a couple of years, and Boehner won’t bring it up for a vote. I commend the president. Force their hand. Let them come up with an alternative. Let them come up with an immigration bill.
Obama pushed them, and he has the ability to do that now because really he’s a lame duck. He’s going to have a republican House and Senate, so it’s going to be him battling the two, and he’s got to leverage it any way that he can, so I think it was a smart move on his part. I find it interesting that the republicans stand for family values, and yet our immigration policy does nothing but split up families.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Fox News says that President Obama is violating the constitutional limits of his power.
Jesse Ventura: (laughs) So did George Bush and Dick Cheney. You notice they didn’t say anything about that. If the roles were reversed, it would be the democrats saying he was usurping his power. It’s all political garbage, red herring BS.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): And what would be your immigration reform plan?
Jesse Ventura: Well, you have to remember that Governor Ventura is biased. For the last eight years, I’ve chosen to live a thousand miles south of our border off the grid, and so I love the Mexican people. I wouldn’t trade it for anything obviously. I’ve done it for eight years, and I’m getting ready to go do it again in moments, so I’m biased. My view is this. I drive to Mexico. I don’t fly because I refuse to fly. I refuse to be treated like a criminal at an airport because I have metal in my body.
Every year, I cross the border, and it’s very interesting. We’re the United States of America, home of the brave, land of the free, and yet when I cross into Mexico, there’s nobody there. I’ve actually rolled my windows down, and asked, “Doesn’t somebody come up and hand pieces of paper saying ‘Buenos Dias’?” No. Yet when I turn around and come into my own country, there are seven lanes of traffic, a three to four hour wait, 95% of the license plates are US, and the only thing missing from our border from Checkpoint Charlie and East Berlin are the army tanks, and I’m sure they’re on their way.
We’re supposed to be the land of freedom, and yet we’re building walls? Our border in Canada is way closer, but we’re not concerned about that because it’s white people. Anyway, if we cut off all the immigration from Mexico and don’t allow the migrant worker to come here, the agricultural economy of California most likely collapses, and you will be paying double for your food. I hope people won’t complain when they wall off the border, and food prices double or triple. I hope the people won’t whine and cry about it when that happens because if Jesse Ventura’s going to go pick strawberries, I’m going to charge you five hundred bucks an hour.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Tell me about your maximum wage proposal.
Jesse Ventura: Everyone yells about the minimum wage, so I think it’s time we implement a maximum wage. It’s already there. I’m not some communist or socialist trying to implement it. You have it in pro sports. Football, baseball, basketball and hockey all have salary caps, don’t they? They can’t get into a true bidding war for LeBron James because they’re limited by salary caps. That’s a maximum wage. There’s only so much LeBron will be allowed to make in basketball. The owners do that to protect themselves.
Well, why don’t we implement a salary cap on CEOs of corporations? I have a good number. I arbitrarily picked it out. How about twenty-four million a year, two million a month? If you can’t survive on two million a month, I don’t support capital punishment, but I might reconsider. And that’s a joke, if someone can’t survive on two million dollars a month. My example, Walmart.
Every one of the Walmart family makes ten billion a year or whatever it is, and yet their workers have to go on public subsidy. Why do these people need ten billion dollars a year? My tax dollars have to publicly subsidize their workers. So let’s have a maximum wage. Could you live off of twenty-four million dollars a year?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I certainly could give it my best shot.
Jesse Ventura: Yeah. I bet you could survive. I’ll bet you wouldn’t have to worry about your next bowl of Wheaties, would you? Then you could take that money and apply it to the federal debt or put it back into the company and give everybody else raises. Raise the pay scales. It’s becoming too divided now. The average CEO makes three hundred and fifty times more than the worker now. Does the CEO really work three hundred and fifty times harder? I don’t think so.
The CEO gets his money by pushing paper. Why should the ditch digger be paid less? If you took someone like Dick Cheney who got a thirty-four million dollar payout when he left Halliburton to become vice president … Dick Cheney couldn’t dig that ditch. He’d drop over with a heart attack, so look at it from that aspect. Why should physical labor be paid less than mental labor?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That is definitely something to think about. Let’s change horses in the middle of the stream.
Jesse Ventura: Okay.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you believe that racism and/or excessive force were factors in the killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson?
Jesse Ventura: Obviously there’s a problem when you look at statistics that show racism because black people are pulled over more. Statistics show it all. Here’s my point on Ferguson. It was controversial. No one will deny that. It was he said/she said. There was controversial evidence. The only way through that is the system. You’ve got to have a trial.
When I went to trial on my lawsuit, there were all sorts of stuff out there in the media saying this and that. Until you get in a courtroom, and evidence is submitted in front of a judge and a jury by attorneys, you don’t know what the evidence is, and now in light of what happened in Ferguson, we’ll never know. We’ll never get closure.
They should’ve just indicted him on manslaughter and allowed it to go to court, and then if he’s acquitted, fine. But it should’ve gone in front of a jury because now forever and ever, you’re going to get no closure, and all these thoughts will be out there, and they will never go away. I hope something positive comes out of it in the long run, but I advocate that absolutely in a case like this that is so controversial, it requires going to trial.
The district attorney should’ve recused himself. He works with the cops on a daily basis, and now the cop is a defendant. In the state of Minnesota, when something like that occurs in a particular county, they will bring in a county attorney from another county to handle the investigation because they know there’s an inherent conflict of interest. That attorney works with the police. He’s a prosecutor. They’re all friends. That’s too big of a conflict of interest.
They should’ve brought in a new district attorney who did not know the police. Bring him in from another county and allow him to make the judgment because this prosecutor actually tried to help out the defense, and I’ve heard legal experts say that never happens. Prosecutors are there to promote prosecution. It happened to be that the defendant was a police officer, so this prosecutor actually almost acted like a defense lawyer because he got what he wanted. He didn’t want it to go to trial.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you believe the reaction to the grand jury decision of looting and burning was justified?
Jesse Ventura: Nobody advocates for that, but it certainly can happen. You’ve got people frustrated. You’ve got people angry. Had they said he was going to be tried in court, none of that probably would’ve happened. Let’s have the day in court. That’s the system.
The grand jury is there to say merely if there is enough evidence for a trial. In this case, I would have to say overwhelmingly because you’ve got so much controversy. There’s enough evidence for a trial, and there should be a trial so we can see what evidence is real and see what evidence is fabricated.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What about the marching in different cities across the United States?
Jesse Ventura: The marching is not over Ferguson. The marching is over an existing condition that permeates throughout our country that police and the establishment treat minorities different than they do white people. And it’s the truth. Statistics show it. That’s what the march is all about. It’s frustration.
It’s the same as when the O.J. Simpson trial happened. Minority people weren’t cheering across the nation because O.J. got away with it. They were cheering because finally they saw the system get beat which is generally stacked against them.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What do you think about the allegations that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted several women over a period of years?
Jesse Ventura: I don’t know. I don’t know because I’ve been in that position through my lawsuit where people lie about you. They lie to get fame and fortune whatever it might be. The difficult thing in the Cosby case is apparently there are sixteen women now? When you start getting up to numbers that high, you’ve got to start giving some credibility, and say, “Something’s not quite right here.”
Why would all of those women who don’t know each other come out of the woodwork like they have? Again, I’m not going to go against Mr. Cosby. I don’t know anything more than you do. I do understand when you’re a high profile figure, you become a target because as we stated right here, I just got the affirmative results to myself being a target. This was all made up about me for fame and fortune. That can happen, so you have to be very careful and know the truth.
I guess there’s probably a statute of limitations, so Mr. Cosby’s probably not in any trouble because it seems the majority of this took place many years ago. Really he’s only being tried in the court of public opinion.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I think perhaps people are having problems with Mr. Cosby not immediately responding or refuting the allegations.
Jesse Ventura: I agree because in my case when I learned of it, I immediately came out and said, “This never happened. This is absurd.” I wanted it to stop, so I immediately filed a lawsuit to make it stop. If you’re innocent, in my opinion, like I was, you react very quickly and decisively to it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Staying quiet is probably not helping him at all.
Jesse Ventura: Ultimately the people will be the judge of that, probably not you and I (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Exactly. Will you have Henry Rollins as your vice-presidential running mate in 2016?
Jesse Ventura: Me and Henry Rollins? (laughs) Not yet unless he has made that decision (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Enjoyed the conversation between you had Henry on We The People a couple of weeks ago.
Jesse Ventura: Well, I do my Off The Grid show, which is ten to twelve minutes of me basically reacting to news and different positions and this and that. I try to make it exciting. Then I do my podcast, We The People, and that’s much more low-key with me having a conversation with someone for thirty to forty-five minutes fairly in depth. The latest one I did I think people will find very fascinating. Imagine this. In a calm conversation, Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Donald Trump.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): An odd couple.
Jesse Ventura: Yeah. Donald and I had a great conversation, and I’ll tell you why. We’ve known each other for a few decades now, and we also have great respect for each other. You can differ on opinions, and if you have respect for the other person, you can still have a very civil conversation about any topic as long as the respect is maintained. Donald respects my view, and I respect his view.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is there anything you two disagree on vehemently?
Jesse Ventura: I will tell you this. I got Donald Trump to admit George Bush was an even worse president than Obama (laughs). I said, “Donald, you’re always blaming President Obama. It all happened with George Bush!” Donald said, “I know. Don’t get me wrong. He was a worse president!” The Donald was very open, and we had a wonderful conversation. We left totally on good terms. In fact, we’re hoping to play golf together.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is there anything else you’d like to discuss?
Jesse Ventura: Just that I’ll be heading off the grid again, and I’ll be out of the United States until at least June of next year, which I look forward to doing. I live off the grid. I live with no television and no telephone. I call it “flushing my brain out.” At this point in my life, I live two separate lives. I live a life up here in the United States, and then I live a completely different life down in Mexico. I hate to say it, but the Mexican life is attracting me more, but that’s just me.
When I’m in Mexico, I’ll tell you what a typical day is like so you’ll understand. When I’m in Mexico, every morning I wake up with nothing to do. When I go to bed that night, I’m half done (laughs). That’s the lifestyle I lead down there. It’s very much a surfer lifestyle like my good friend Fernando. He’s a surfer down there. Fernando had to dig a well on his property and go forty feet into the desert soil to get the well right.
I looked at him by the fire one night and asked, “Fernando, how long did it take you to dig that well?” He looked at me and said, “Six months.” Can you imagine being down in a hole with a shovel for six months to get water? Then he looked at me, smiled and here’s where the surfer life comes in. Fernando said, “You know, it would’ve taken a year had there been good waves.” See, in the surfer lifestyle, which is what I live down there, if the waves are good, you stop everything you’re doing. That can wait. You go surfing. Then when the waves go bad, you go back to what you were doing.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did Fernando teach you how to surf?
Jesse Ventura: He didn’t teach me how, but he’s a very good surfer. I learned from him. I’ll put it that way. I was doing it before I met him, but not to the extent. Fernando’s phenomenal (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you off the grid for Christmas?
Jesse Ventura: Yep, “Feliz Navidad.” I’ll be celebrating it south of the border where they know how to celebrate it very good also. You’ve seen those Corona beer ads where they light up the palm tree? There you go. You just think of me. When that palm tree gets lit up, just think of me living on the beach. Every day it’s 85 and sunny.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I’ll do that (laughs). Great talking to you as always, governor.
Jesse Ventura: As always, great talking to you, Melissa. Thank you very much. Keep up the good work because we need the conversations, and we need to exercise our First Amendment right to freedom of speech, so thank you for having me, and I look forward to doing it again.
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