Former governor Jesse Ventura talks about new books 'Marijuana Manifesto' and 'Shit Politicians Say,' plus much more [INTERVIEW]

Former governor Jesse Ventura, 65, keeps himself busy.  He seamlessly travels from endeavor to endeavor. He served as a member of the Navy Underwater Demolition Team. He was a professional wrestler for more than a decade and was also a colorful commentator for wrestling and football. The acting bug bit him and he starred in action films Predator and The Running Man. Politics beckoned and he served as the 38th governor of the great state of Minnesota from 1999-2003. Governor Ventura is also an avid student, as well as teacher of American history, politics and pop culture, in fact, he was a visiting fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

He maintains a visible and verbal presence in the media. While some may consider him to be an eccentric freedom fighter, it must be noted that he comes off as a smart, good guy.

He has written many political books that appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Governor Ventura spoke with TheCelebrityCafe.com about several subjects including his legal battles against the estate of the late Chris Kyle from American Sniper fame, whether anything could lure him back into politics, his thoughts on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and the election in general, as well as something important that no one running for office has, but he does.

He expressed his outrage that third-party candidates are barred from the presidential debates and talks about living off the grid in Mexico and how he communicates there with ease, even though he doesn’t speak Spanish. He chimes in on his impressions on Prince and the legacy his fellow Minnesotan leaves behind and explains his position on the absolute legalization of marijuana.

He published two books this year: Shit Politicians Say: The Funniest, Dumbest, Most Outrageous Things Ever Uttered By Our "Leaders" (July 2016) and Jesse Ventura's Marijuana Manifesto which releases on Sept. 6, 2016.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: What an interesting life you've had, sir. You're an author of many best-selling books, a governor, and actor and a wrestler. I still think of you with you saying “That’s right, Gorilla,” from your announcing days every time I think of your voice. What have you been up to lately?

Governor Jesse Ventura: Well, just battling my court battle. You know, I'm involved heavily in a court trial for defamation when the American Sniper, Chris Kyle, lied and wrote about a chapter about me, of him beating me up, I guess in a San Diego bar and I never even knew the guy. So, I'm battling that, and just got through with winning the case in front of the jury, but now that got overturned by the eighth circuit court of appeals. And they violated their own rules to overturn it and then wouldn't comment on it. And so, I'm heading back for a new trial. But that's not so bad either, because I'll get to prove twice now that Kyle was a liar. Which was ultimately what I wanted to do anyway, I didn't bring the lawsuit for money, although it has cost me close to a million dollars.

You know what's interesting about it? A new trial was ordered because the truth came out. Isn't that interesting? Most people would assume, as I do, that the courtroom is a place for the truth, but it's not with our corrupt judges today -- and I'm talking about the corrupt ones on the court of appeals. Because, in the trial -- and we couldn't say it, and I couldn't say it -- the other side -- I of course, was paying for it all myself to clear my name -- the other side was being paid for by an insurance company, but you're not allowed to say that. So, the other side got up during the trial, and lied and said how it was affecting them financially and really taking them to task, that how bad I was to do this to Chris Kyle's estate, when the truth of the matter was it was all being paid for by an insurance company and they knew it.

Well, they continued this the whole trial and the trial judge finally said, "You can bring the insurance in on a limited basis." Because he felt it was how they had gone overboard and there's exceptions -- he has the right to do that. It consisted of four questions, ask the publishing company whose representatives were on the stand, who had-- in conflict of interest because they were providing the insurance. Four questions of them and a half a page of a 20-page summary at the end of the trial, which was never objected to during the trial. Then, after the trial, the other side objected to it which is against the rules and yet the court of appeals is upheld that objection the first time, the first case, in 76 years where they've allowed an objection to happen after the trial was over.

TCC: Why do you think Kyle lied?

GJV: I don't know. You'd have to ask him and you can't unfortunately. Fame and fortune. Well, look at this way. Everyone thinks with the American Sniper movie and all that, that he's a hero. No, he's not. And I'll tell you simply why. A hero has to have honor and liars do not have honor, so, therefore how can he be a hero? He could shoot dead -- nobody's denying that. He could kill people -- nobody denies that. He probably did his job exceptionally well over in Iraq, but he also been caught lying. He said he killed two people at a convenience store in Texas. Not true. He said he shot people from the Superdome during Katrina looters. Not true. And then I don't know if you are aware but the Navy had to come out and correct and say that he had lied about his medals too. That's official.

TCC: You don't see that too often in the news though which is...

GJV: Of course not, because we're a war country. You don't dare go -- if you stand for peace in this country, you're lucky to be alive. Case and point... Case point... No, I'm old enough. Case and point, John F. Kennedy. There wouldn't have been those Vietnam wars if he had been re-elected. Killed. Robert F. Kennedy ran totally to get us out of Vietnam on a peace ticket. Killed. Dr. Martin Luther King, stood for peace. Killed violently, gunfire. Malcom X had come back from Mecca a changed man, stood for peace. Murdered. Finally John Lennon of the Beatles was making a comeback right as the Republicans took over. Eliminated. All of them violently. Isn't that interesting? All the people that stand for peace are killed violently with guns.

TCC: Good point.

GJV: It's true, yeah. You have to remember, we've been brainwashed by the media. We are a war country. I don't know if you are aware of this but there was a poll taken by Gallup two years ago and again our media, who is as corrupt as anything in this country because they're owned, they're not into reporting news now. They're in the ratings business and making money. But there was an international poll done, I think two years ago. 3,000 people internationally, no one from the United States. One of the questions asked was, if your country went to war, who do you think it would likely be against? 23 percent named the United States.  Eight percent said China, six percent said Pakistan. Now, that means one out of four people internationally believe if their country goes to war, The United States would be the opponent. As a veteran, I hang my head in shame over that.

Well, it's shameful, but that's the image we portray to the world. Hey, when we invaded Iraq, there were millions of people around the world that were protesting it, yet it wasn't showing on our television. The world protested our invasion of Iraq, but the people of America were never made aware of that -- through the censorship that goes on here, and believe me it's going on here.

TCC: I believe you.

GJV: I'll put it this way, and we'll get back to this. You know, the two big statements -- I don't support Trump, I support Gary Johnson or Dr. Stein, either one I'd rather see in. But the two big controversial things Trump has said lately, when he said them I burst out laughing, because I knew the context in which they were stated. And that was the thing on the Second Amendment, the recent one. He wasn't advocating anybody shoot Hillary Clinton, like the media's spinning it. What he was saying was the voting block of the Second Amendment people need to be active to stop Hillary from becoming the president, because if Hillary becomes the president, the Second Amendment is going to be attacked and destroyed. Now, why shouldn't he say that? And then the other -- what was the other one he got in trouble -- Oh, the thing about having the Russians find the emails, I thought was hilarious. Donald Trump is finding out what I found out: when you run for office, you are not allowed to tell a joke [chuckles].

TCC: Well, that's true.

GJV: Oh no, I'm serious. When I was governor, if I told a joke in front of the press -- I learned. I would go, "That was a joke, joke, joke [chuckles]," and I'd say it three times--

TCC: And you'd still hear about it, I'm sure.

GJV: So they couldn't twist it and manipulate it for their own political whatever. That's mainstream media. Both of those things by Trump, like when he said, "Maybe we should get the Russians to find the emails," well there's a classic example of Bill Maher and all these others killing the messenger, not the message. Instead of worrying that the Democratic party rigged their election for that Hillary would win and Bernie Sanders would lose, they were more concerned about who turned it over. And they blame the Russians. There's no evidence the Russians did it, not one shred of evidence yet has come out the Russians did that. And Trump, what he meant by it -- and I laughed immediately -- since we were so incompetent to get the emails because Hillary hasn't made -- they're missing like 20,000 of them or something, maybe the Russians can find them [chuckles]. That's hilarious. And yet what did the media do? They accused Trump of treason.

TCC: They're definitely not in favor of Trump.

GJV: They're not in favor of anybody except the handpicked person they want, which in this year is Hillary -- it's like, I laughed. I was on with Don Lemon a couple weeks ago. And I told him on the street, CNN's referred to as the Clinton News Network. And he said, "No, that's not fair. We, duh, duh, duh." I said, "No, no, not because of that. Because your parent corporation is like the seventh or eighth largest contributor to Hillary's campaign [chuckles]." And he said, "Well, I'll have to check on that." I said, "Check all you want I said. It's the truth." Time Warner is the seventh or eighth largest contributor -- corporate contributor -- to Hillary Clinton's campaign. Time Warner owns CNN.

TCC: I read that in 2004, Donald Trump affirmed you and he said that you would get his financial and moral support if you would ever reenter politics. Is that true?

GJV: Yeah, well, yeah, and he actually came in '98 and supported me. Donald Trump is not a Republican, he's an Independent. He saw what the Republicans did to the Reform Party. They sent in Pat Buchanan with his minions, we had -- you could be a delegate and register that day. They came to the Reform Party convention with all his people, he registered, he got the nomination for president, and then took the money that we had and didn't even run. He used it to retire his previous campaign debts. Go back and look at it, and Trump saw that in 2000. That was the reason I quit the Reform Party, when Pat Buchanan got named our presidential candidate. But he was sent to destroy us by the Republicans. Trump did the same thing to the Republicans that he saw them do to the Reform Party. He entered their races and has now pretty much destroyed the Republican party, hasn't he?

TCC: Possibly.

GJV: There you go.

TCC: We're moving away from binary systems in almost anything, even gender is up in the air right now. Why do you think America still has a two party political system?

GJV: Well, you would think today in light of Hillary and Donald, their negatives are through the roof, they're the highest in history. They're both well over 50 percent that the people don't like either one of them. Yet, you'll see the Democrats and Republicans team up to keep Gary Johnson and Dr. Stein out of the debates. This is the year that Gary Johnson, Libertarian absolutely and the Green Party should be included, so the people have the opportunity to hear two other voices other than the two in the two party dictatorship that we live under.

TCC: What do you think we need to do to make that happen?

GJV: Put pressure on them. Now, do you know the history of the debates?

TCC: No, sir.

GJV: Oh, my God, see? The media doesn't educate anyone. Do you remember when Perot ran in '92, are you old enough?

TCC: Yes, sir.

GJV: Okay, Perot ran in '92 and got one out of five votes. Why? Because he was allowed to debate. Then if you'll recall in '96, he wasn't allowed to debate because he scared the crap out them. Here's what happened, up to '92, the presidential debates were all controlled by the National League of Women Voters, who allowed Ross Perot in. Well, the Democrats and Republicans then took it away from the National League of Women Voters and they formed their own -- as they call it -- nonpartisan debate committee, which is a total lie. It was headed by the former heads of the Democratic and Republican party. '96 came along and Perot, who got 20 percent of the vote, wasn't even allowed to debate? One out of five, and he wasn't allowed to debate in '96. Why? Because Bob Dole didn't want him in because he felt it would erode his conservative base. Bill Clinton didn't want debates at all because he was so far ahead, so Dole and Clinton made a deal, took it to the federal debate commission, they rubber stamped it as the former heads of Democrat and Republican party leaders. They eliminated Perot and that year there were only two presidential debates, instead of the normal three. Ironically, they were held on the same night as the World Series - which is just like this year. They're going to hold them on the same night NFL football's played [laughter]. That's all done by design, you shouldn't laugh over that. You should be angry over it.

TCC: No, I think it is on purpose.

GJV: Oh, of course it is. Of course it is. Because they don't want you watching the debates. It's easier to control you then. But so anyway they cut the deal, Perot was cut out, there were only two debates in '96, presidential and one VP -- normally, it's three -- and the rest is history. You haven't heard a third voice up there since 1992. I think this year if people were offered a third choice they would take it and my perfect scenario, here's what I want to have happen, I want Gary Johnson to win his home state of New Mexico and possibly a couple more and Hillary and Trump don't get to the magical 270 so that we end up with no President and then it'll go to the congress. Well, the reason I want that to happen is so maybe we'll finally get rid of the adjudicated electoral elitist system that elects our President. It's the only election where you can get the most votes and lose i.e. Al Gore in 2000. He got a half a million more votes than George Bush and lost. How can that be? It's ridiculous. It's an elitist system. It's so they pick your President. You don't -- the people -- and it needs to be abolished. It was put in because they had to go by horseback with delegates to Washington back in the 1700s. Well, when the last time anybody went on horseback to Washington?

TCC: Pretty rare, I'm guessing.

GJV: Yeah, 150 years ago, maybe [laughter]. And that's my point. Maybe that's what I hope is achieved mostly out of this election. I hope it ends up with nobody get an elected president  and then we'll get rid of the Electoral College because of you run for mayor, if you run for governor, congress, senate, if you get the most votes, you win. But president, you can get the most votes and lose. Al Gore, 2000, he got-- a half a million more people wanted him to be president than George Bush-- and lost? How can that be?

TCC: Is there any way you could be lured back into politics?

GJV: No, I don't think so because the Libertarians offered me -- they contacted me twice to come down and opposed Gary Johnson, I guess, and see who'd get the nomination. But Governor Johnson wanted it bad, and I didn't want to split up the Libertarians and it was also my personal choice. I was up to run. I was up to debate and shame these guys in debating -- and I'll tell you how I do it in a moment [chuckles] -- but I wasn't up to do the job 100 percent for the four years. I'm 65 years old now, and that would mean I'd have to do it until age 70, minimum. And I just did not -- wasn't in 100 percent , and you cannot do it then because, for those jobs, you have to be 100 percent  in. You can't be 98 percent  in. You got to be 100 percent  in, and I couldn't bring myself to that. I would be cheating me, the voters, and everybody else if I'd have gone forward with it. So I chose not to, and I'm not going to get in politics anymore, but I am signing a contract this week with Russian television [chuckles] because I want to try to become friends with Russia. That's the legacy that I want to leave now. I want to do anything I can to -- why do we continue to want to go to with war with Russia?

TCC: That's one of those mysteries right now.

GJV: They're not Communist anymore, so they can't use that as an excuse. They claim it's Russian aggression. Excuse me. Russia has two bases outside of Russia. We have 178 military bases throughout the world. Who's the aggressor? Put common sense to it and take a look at who the aggressors -- and they talk about Russia invading. Well, there were Russians there. Half of that country is Russia, and yet, what about us invading Iraq? Who are we to point the finger at anyone anymore about invading with military? Iraq didn't do one thing to us, they had no ties to Al-Qaeda, they were not involved in anything, they had no weapons of mass destruction and we invaded them, overthrew their government, occupied them and destabilized the whole Middle East. So all the stuff going on there right now is pretty much a direct result of our invasion of Iraq. And yet, we won't take responsibility for it. You notice when Donald Trump brings up the fact that all these top security leaders said he wouldn't be a good president. Well, those were all the same people that took us into Iraq. The same people that took us into the Iraq war, which anyone can now see is probably the worst foreign policy decisions this country's ever made. Even worse than Vietnam, I think. I lived through both, I'm a Vietnam veteran. But that's what happens here if you don't elect the veteran the president. When you elect chicken hawks, chicken hawks take you to war. A chicken hawk is this. When it was time to for them to serve in the military, they were chicken and then they come back when they're 50 years old and they become hawks. That's a chicken hawk.

A chicken hawk is someone who is chicken -- like Dick Cheney. There's your quintessential chicken hawk. He got five deferments from Vietnam, five. Normal kids only got four. Dick was exceptional. He got five [chuckles]. Five deferments from Vietnam and yet he takes us to war in Iraq. Something he wouldn't do. He sends kids to war over there when he wouldn't do it. I tell you this. I was asked one time by a right-wing talk show host who said, "Going to war is a difficult, difficult decision to make, probably the most difficult you ever would." And I said, "No, it's not." I said, "Going to war is an easy decision." And he said, "How can you say that?" I said, "Easy." I said, "Here's how. A war is justified if you're willing to send your kid. If you're not willing to send your kid, then the war ain't justified." And I can unequivocally tell you I would not have sent my kid to the Iraq war.

It's a good litmus for whether or not we should go to war.

It's simple, isn't it? Because see -- how can you send somebody else's kid to war if you won't send your own?

TCC: Or perhaps worse yet, you wouldn't have served yourself.

GJV: Exactly, and that's the leaders we have. If I would have ran for President, they would have had to deal with one very dangerous thing with me. You know what that is?

TCC: Common sense?

GJV: No. I have something that they don't have that even Donald Trump's money can't buy. You know what it is? I have an honorable discharge from the United States Navy [chuckles]. Hillary Clinton don't have one. Bill Clinton don't have one. Trump don't have one. Obama don't have one. George W. Bush's is fraudulent because he got his before his enlistment was even up, so you know that's date. His whole enlistment was a joke. Remember when Larry Flynt of Hustler offered $1 million for anybody at that base in Alabama who could identify George Bush as being there and nobody came forward [laughter]? Even for a $1 million. I might have tried to lie [laughter]. Yeah, I saw him there in the… [laughter]. Give me the million.

TCC: What's your stance on helmet laws?

GJV: I'm fully opposed to them. No, when I ran for governor, I told all the bikers, "You don't need to worry about me bringing in a helmet law [laughter]. It's your option because you as a motorcycle rider that's your option. It doesn't come with the bike [laughter]." Seat belts come with a car so therefore you should be required to use them, but a helmet does not come with the bike. And personally as a rider, I find the helmet distracts me. I can't hear as well and I can't see as well. I also believe loud pipes save lives and my pipes straight through with no baffles in them [laughter].

TCC: We can hear you coming.

GJV: Well, I believe that. If you ride in a group, then you're okay. Then the cars will respect you. But if you're riding alone, you get no respect out there from cars at all.

TCC: Well, let's talk a little bit about your book, if you don't mind. You've already written seven, so this is your eighth?

GJV: Eighth. Which one you want to talk about? Because I got a second one that's coming out right now, too.

TCC: The Marijuana Manifesto is the one that I knew about.

GJV: Oh, Marijuana Manifesto. Well, see, I just released another book in July, called -- I don't know where this is going to air, so I'll just say Crap Politicians Say, except we use S-H-I-T.

TCC: Okay.

Jesse Ventura, Marijuana ManifestoGJV: We did a book called Crap Politicians Say where we cover all the stupid stuff politicians have said down through the years, from the founding fathers currently to today. And then we're coming out now of course with the Marijuana Manifesto and I want to put a book out that tells the truth about marijuana and ends these bogus lies that the government and all of the liquor industry and the pharmaceutical industry and all of those major corporations who oppose legalized marijuana. The people need to understand that this is an unbelievable plant that has huge medical -- it's a medical plant, is the best way to describe it. It has huge benefits for us as people in many, many -- so many different ways. It's astounding we've allowed them to eradicate this plant, and I'll give you just a few:

It makes the best bio-diesel fuel on the planet, so it can make you energy. It grows 15 feet a summer, so it's a renewable resource. It makes better paper than wood does. It makes clothing. Medical-wise, it's stopping seizures, it's working for post-traumatic stress, they're even finding that it's curing cancer in certain cases. I mean, this is a remarkable plant. Now, for those that smoke it recreationally, to feel good, what's wrong with that? That's mental health.

TCC: It is [chuckles].

GJV: Well, it is. Post-traumatic stress, that's why the soldiers need it, is for their mental health. It makes them feel better so that they don't have the horrors of war in their mind all the time. And the government won't allow them to have it, because it's illegal -- federally. It's absurd. It was made illegal because of William Randolph Hearst, the big newspaper guy. He owned thousands of acres of timberland and he didn't want hemp to be used for paper, he wanted to force everyone to buy his trees. And that's why he was the one that spearheaded making it illegal in Washington. Always follow the money, it's done for money purposes. Plus, the other thing is you can grow it, so the government can't tax you and they don't like that, that's why they prohibit it. And then you get beyond to the DEA today and all that Drug Enforcement Agency, in this book, wait until you read, they're as bad as the cartels. They knock down doors, they shoot and kill people, and they've done it to the wrong house, where they've actually broke into places doing a big drug raid, shoot and kill people, and then find out they got the wrong house. And they're not even brought up on trial.

TCC: Awful.

GJV: I guess it's just collateral damage to the war on drugs. See, that's the other big thing. Right now the big problem you've got out there between the police and the people is part of that rift cause is the war on drugs; that I had a 12-year Baltimore police officer telling me this, too. He said because the war on drugs has caused the militarization of our police forces. It's caused them where they dress up like storm troopers. They come in the night. They batter down doors. They violate the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, all of that, and the worst thing is when they do these drug raids, it's a shoot first, ask questions later mentality, and that's not permeating throughout all the police forces, shoot first ask questions later. And if we would end the war on drugs, you would see the end of the militarization of our police forces and you would see an end to a lot of the shooting violence that's going on when people are being pulled over for traffic stops and then suddenly executed right in the street.

I mean, people need to think a moment on that. Thank goodness Minnesota didn't have the death penalty. I would have hated to have been the governor and had the death penalty where I'm the last signature, especially with DNA testing today. Look at all the people that have been exonerated five years later on death row by DNA. Imagine if you signed and killed somebody and then it came out three, four years later he was innocent. That would be a hell of a thing to have to carry on you the rest of your life. The point being is, is that the death penalty only should be -- if you agree with it, which I don't, only allowed for murder. You have to murder someone to get the death penalty. And yet, people are being shot. If you're stealing a television, that should not be the death penalty. You shouldn't be shot just because someone yells, "Halt" or resisting arrest or running away from being arrested. Now they'll shoot you and they're justified in doing so, I guess. How? Unless you've committed murder and been convicted -- unless of course, I understand if you're shooting it out with the police that they have a right to defend themselves too. But when you pump in four rounds into someone's chest at point blank range, I as a former Navy Seal can tell you that's not defensive shooting. Seals only use two shots. Well, when they nailed bin Laden, they tapped him twice. Didn't they? So we have kids in the street being shot more than bin Laden [chuckles]. Think about it. I was trained in quick kill, what they call quick kill. It's only two rounds. And yet, we got victims out there that are getting shot four and five times, point blank range. That's not self-defense. You're not going to tell me that's self-defense.

TCC: No, it's not.

GJV: But it all comes to root causes. And one of the major root causes is the War on Drugs. And in what's a free society which we claim to be, how can the government tell you that you can or can not put into your body if you're not harming anyone? Except yourself, and you have the right to do that in a free country.

Always remember this -- You can drink yourself to death, you can smoke yourself to death, you can eat yourself to death, but ... Always remember this, I've said it many times. I said freedom. I said anything in life has a ying and a yang. It has a good and a bad. And in the case of freedom, well, freedom also gives you the freedom to be stupid [laughter].

That's part of what you have to accept. If you're going to accept freedom, there's the freedom to be stupid. People are going to do stupid things, but you don't take away the freedom because somebody makes a stupid decision.

TCC: What was Jen Hobbs role in the book?

GJV: Jen, she did a great deal of the research. She helps me write because I'm a better talker than writer [laughter]. She'll record me. I'll talk -- I prefer to talk. If she asks me a question, I'll give her a verbal answer rather than sitting there writing one. Did you know I don't own a cell phone and I never have?

TCC: No, I didn't.

GJV: Yeah, I want to go to my grave and be able to say I never owned one [laughter]. I want to be able to put it on my gravestone. But no, Jen's job was phenomenal. She did a great deal of research. We both did. And then again, she does a great deal of taking my words and putting them on paper. That's why I always get a co-writer with me. I don't like to do that part. I'd rather verbally do it. I don't have the patience to sit and write [chuckles].

TCC: But since you just mentioned the no cell phone thing, I want to talk to you a little bit about Off The Grid and your life in Mexico if you don't mind?

GJV: Sure.

TCC: Off The Grid kind of reminds of Penn & Teller: Bullsh#t! I love it. I didn't know it existed.

GJV: Well, unfortunately, it's not on anymore.

TCC: I saw repeats on YouTube, but I thought it was fantastic.

GJV: Well, thank you. But unfortunately, there was a fallout at Ora television. I was there highest rated show, sometimes getting 90 percent of their hits, and they cut the show and released me.

TCC: Were you resurrected somewhere else, like History Channel?

GJV: Well, what's happened is this, is that when I was doing Off The Grid Russian television picked it up and aired them on Friday night and so when Ora had their problems and they brought in new management -- and new management always likes to get rid of old talent and bring in their own, which is essentially what happened. They turned me loose, their top show by far and away, totally their -- I would get between 60-90 percent of all his hits, and they let me go because new management came in. But who stepped forward was RT America. Russian Television America said, "We'll take care of production. We'll take your show, we'll take you." In fact, I have the contract in front of me right now that I'm going to sign later today. And I will be on with -- it probably won't be called Off the Grid anymore. It'll be the same thing, only it's going to be on RT America which goes to 800 million homes in the world. RT's second only to the BBC in world coverage.

TCC: Wow.

GJV: So Jesse Ventura will be known internationally -- I already am. I'll tell you what happened in Mexico. I was down in Mexico and I ran into a guy from Lebanon down there. And he went crazy. He looked at me and said, "I can't believe I'm meeting you." I said, "What are you talking about?" He said, "Well, " he said, "You, you are a hero in the world." And I said, "How am I a hero? I've only been a governor in Minnesota." He said, "It doesn't matter." He said, "In Lebanon when you're on CNN," he said, "everybody stops what they're doing to hear what you have to say."

TCC: That must feel good.

GJV: Oh, I was taken aback by it. I said, "Really?" He said, "Yes." He said, "the consensus is in Lebanon that if Jesse Ventura would become the President of the United States, the world would be a better place."

TCC: Talking to you, it sounds like it might be.

GJV: I don't know. I'm not going to run because -- I also took the attitude of this, I didn't make this mess so why should I clean it up? And ultimately, this mess belongs to the United States people, because they're the ones that elected these people. So they're responsible for putting them in, so they're responsible for what they do. That's one of the reasons I live out of the country now. And in fact I'll tell you this, there's a good possibility that at the conclusion of this court case, win, lose, or draw, that I'm moving to Mexico permanently.

TCC: Really?

GJV: Yep. There's a good possibility of that. It's not certain yet...

TCC: Why?

GJV: Why? I don't want to live in a country that lies can prevail in court. Where you can walk into a courtroom and fabricate a story and then have appellate court judges uphold it after a jury has made a decision -- see, what they're doing to me, they're taking away my constitutional right to a jury trial. The jury made a decision. And now two judges who didn't even sit in on any of the evidence and reverse the jury's decision and ordered a new trial based upon an objection that never occurred in the original trial. Well, that's taking away my right to a jury trial, isn't it?

TCC: It is.

GJV: There you go. So we are also going to appeal that to the Supreme Court of the United States, but I don't have that much confidence in them, either. Although, Larry Flynt won there [laughter]. You know?

TCC: Well, some people do, but I don't know...

GJV: Well, he won under the first amendment and maybe I'll win, but they -- because they're doing things that -- they're violating a rule that's been -- I'm the only case in 76 years that this has been done for. And then the appeals court doesn't even hear our argument, they just upheld the new trial without comment. How disrespectful to me. And in their big 16-page summary of why they reversed it, never once did they refer to me as governor. I was simply Ventura.

TCC: Really?

GJV: Yeah. So disrespectful, these judges. Yet, when I met Vladimir Putin in December, guess what? Vladimir Putin called me Governor.

TCC: As he should. I mean it's respect--

GJV: Yet, I'm supposed to have more respect for these judges. I'll ask you that question. Whom should I respect more, Putin or these judges?

TCC: Well, he's been more respectful to you, but I don’t know what happened these judges. I don't think there's any reason why you would be...

GJV: Well, what angers me is these judges are paid by my taxes, and they're part of government, and they don't even show the 38th governor of Minnesota enough respect to call me by my title. They write a sixteen page summary and I'm referred to as "Ventura."

TCC: Really? Wow.

GJV: Yep. Never. Never in the entire summary was I called Governor.

TCC: You'd think they'd know better, but unfortunately that's a sign of the times, too.

GJV: Well, these are court federal judges. Let me put it to you this way: if I went into their courtroom and didn't refer to them as "Judge" or "Your Honor," they could find me in contempt and put me in jail.

TCC: And they probably would.

GJV: And they probably would. Yet, they wouldn't give me the same respect and call me Governor. There's the reason -- besides, I like the weather in Mexico better than here anyway. I don't like -- believe it or not, I'm from Minnesota but I hate snow.

TCC: Tell me a little bit more about Mexico. It's a green facility?

GJV: Well, where I chose to live down there, I have to do that, because they don't have electricity there. So, if there aren't wires there, you have to find a way to get electricity and where I live the easy way is to get it from the sun. And so my house is completely solar down there. I live completely off the sun. I have everything you have up here. Only in my power, I don't have an electric bill because mine is paid for. I just draw it off the sun and the sun provides that for me and -- so and I like that, and I like the lifestyle down there at this point in my life. The main thing I despise about America now is driving on the freeways.

TCC: What [chuckles]?

GJV: I just find it -- I just don't like it anymore, and I'd rather live in a place where there's not freeways, and I'd rather live in a place that's much slower where -- the thing I like about Mexico is that all my friends down there, not one of them gives a shit about the stock market [chuckles].

TCC: Do you speak Spanish?

GJV: No.

TCC: No?

GJV: Other than broken. We manage it. Mexicans and I communicate. We pantomime. They know a little English, I know a word or two, and we figure it out [chuckles]. It's wonderful. You know what it does? It causes you to relate to people a whole lot better. Let me put it to you this way. Maybe this would be a good way to put it. People of the United States, I have a benefit of living outside the United States for half the year. So I see the United States from the outside looking in, not the inside looking out. And when you see the United States from the outside looking in, you're not -- most people, I don't think, as I don't, like what they're seeing. And it gives you -- I wish everyone in this country could magically leave the country for six months and view the United States from the outside for six months, and I think you'd see a new perspective to the people of this country. We are no longer -- put it this way. We are no longer looked up to anymore. We are no longer looked up to as "Oh, those -- the model we want to be. Ha-ha. Not anymore. Now we're looked at with fear. "Gee, is The United States going to invade us next if we don't go along with what they want?"

TCC: Now, when you're in Minnesota are there foods that you miss from Mexico or vice-versa, when you're in Mexico do you miss some Minnesota delicacies or does your wife take care of that for you?

GJV: I don't miss anything in the United States when I live down there. There's nothing that I like back here that I can't do down there. And the weather's warmer and it's slower. Remember, I'm 65 now. It's different when you're 25 to when you're 65. In fact, I even eat better down there, because we have an organic market down there with a local farmer who grows everything organically -- all the vegetables and stuff. So, you have to eat things quickly because they spoil within a few days, and up here, all the food is treated with preservatives so they can sit on a grocery store shelf for 30 days. So, you absorb much more chemicals up here in your eating, than what I do down in Mexico. And as far as like, people will ask me if I go fishing and I go, "No." "Why not?" I said, "Well, I don't have to; there's a Mexican couple that comes by every Saturday with a refrigerated vehicle." I get lobster tails for six bucks a piece.

TCC: Wow. I might need to move to Mexico.

And while we're on it, let's touch on another little subject called property taxes. You know, we in the United States love to look at Mexico, point out fingers and laugh, don't we?

GJV: Yeah, because we're arrogant. And yet, the Mexican property tax system is way better than ours. Way better, and I'm talking about the philosophical end of it. You want to know how it works? In the United States, if you buy a property and you're a good citizen, and you improve that property, what do they do to you? They tax you more. So they penalize you for good behavior. If you behave like a good citizen, and you upgrade and improve your property, your reward will be the government will take more money from you. So using that analogy, you should let your house become the shithole on the block and they'll reduce your taxes and you'll pay less. Be a bad citizen with your neighbors, right? You'll save money then. Now, here's how it works in Mexico. In Mexico, your property taxes are due in March, right?

TCC: I believe you [laughter].

GJV: They are. If you go pay them in January they knock off 20 percent . If pay them in February, they knock off 10 percent . March is normal, then the fines start. I go down on January 28 and pay my taxes, February's a short month of 28 days, generally, so in 30 days I get 20 percent on my money legally. Tell me where I can do that in 30 days, get a 20 percent. Now, granted, my property taxes are low anyway, but still you save 20 percent. Now, here's the big kicker that should be embarrassing to the United States of America. Now, I don't qualify because I'm not a Mexican citizen. If you're a Mexican citizen whether you live in a shanty shack or the big palace on the beach, when you turn 65, your property taxes are cut in half.

TCC: Oh, wow. Too bad you're not a Mexican citizen.

GJV: Well, here's the deal. The Mexican government understands that when you turn 65, your ability to earn money diminishes. They don't want you kicked out of your house that you've worked your whole life for, no matter what that house is. Now, up here, how many elderly people you see have to leave the house they've had their whole life because their fixed income and their property taxes keep rising every year and they can't afford to stay there. And nobody gives a crap about it, and they're booted out, they have to leave their homes. Imagine how the seniors here'd feel if they got to 65 and their property taxes got cut in half.  If you were retiring, where would you prefer to live? Mexico or here? And that answers your question for me, that's why I'm choosing Mexico.

And the weather's not bad either [chuckles].

No, God, yes. And the surfing's better, too [chuckles]. I'm lucky where I'm at down there, I get to see the clash of two complete ecosystems battle daily, and that is the desert meets the ocean. And what a battle it is [chuckles].

TCC: That you get to see both at the same, that's great.

GJV: Yeah, because you live in the desert but it's desert on water. That's why it's better than Arizona, you can go live in Arizona but there ain't no water [chuckles]. You live down where I live in the Baja, you got the desert and water [chuckles]. You can't surf in Arizona I think that'd be a little rough [chuckles].

TCC: Did you ever meet Prince?

GJV: Mm-hmm. Briefly. We did a show together. What show was that? That daytime talk show with the women in New York? The View? Yeah, I think it was The View. The one that Whoopi was on, and Barbara Walters and all that - years gone past.

TCC: OK.

GJV: Yeah, Prince and I were on that show together, so we were back in the dressing rooms, and his dressing room was right across from mine. And we spoke and talked for a little bit there, but would I call him a friend? No.

TCC: No, but I was always wondering if you met him?

GJV: Yeah, I've met him on multiple occasions. He's a very quiet man.

TCC: What do you think the legacy will be to the people in Minnesota?

GJV: Yeah, but he's very quiet. He doesn't speak loud, and he doesn't speak -- he doesn't -- you don't see him carry conversations. He's very polite. He was very polite and very quiet. And he was kind of funny, because I did ask him -- I said, "Prince." I said, "I've been told that you have enough material that you could put out an album a year for the next 15 or 20 years." And he looked at me and smiled, and said so softly -- he said, "Yeah, but they wouldn't be very good."

That was his answer -- "Yes, I could do that, but they wouldn't be very good." And I thought, "Wow." So he's not -- he has the material to do an album a year for 15, but he is such a perfectionist that he wouldn't put out just to make money. He puts them out to satisfy his artistic brain because that's what I got out of the response. He said, "Yeah, I could do that but they really wouldn't be very good." Because he's that critical of his own music.

TCC: Wow.

GJV: That's why he hadn't done it [laughter]. He got the material, but he wouldn't do it. He wasn't going to just prostitute himself to make money. He has to be satisfied artistically. He was a genius. He was a musical genius. There's no doubt about it. He has albums he did all the instruments. Come on.

TCC: Yeah. No, he was amazing.

GJV: He was blessed with being a genius at-- and another great thing I heard him say that day, he was asked about someone else's music and he responded very well, I thought, so wonderful. He said, "I don't criticize music. I make it." And I thought, "What a great answer." He's not going to look at anyone else and be a judge because that's the other person's music. What I got from that statement was he doesn't put himself in the position to judge what other artists do. He said, "I make music. I don't criticize it."

TCC: What a great answer.

GJV: Yeah. Meaning other artists talk to the artist that wrote it. Don't ask me about it [laughter]. I make my own music and I don't criticize others. Now, I admit it, Minnesota lost a --  it's a shame and I'm hoping that the positive that comes out of Prince's death is that finally, they'll start looking at these opiates as more dangerous than marijuana.

TCC: I hope so too.

GJV: Do you want my quote on marijuana?

TCC: Pardon?

GJV: My quote on marijuana. My famous quote on it. I'm the only one that's ever said this. It's in the book. Want to hear it?

TCC: Yes, of course.

GJV: Marijuana is to rock and roll what beer is to baseball, so imagine if they took away beer at the ballgame. It's the truth. Marijuana is to rock and roll what beer is to baseball.

TCC: That should be on the SAT Board Exam.

GJV: I'm a complete advocate for the full legalization. It's ridiculous. It's jobs waiting to happen. It's an industry and revenue waiting to happen. It's agriculture waiting to happen.

Finally, the country, over half the country, says it should be fully legalized and it's time to do it. It's the prohibition -- prohibition doesn't work. You can't prohibit anything. It just means criminals are going to run it if you prohibit it, just like abortion. My mother was a nurse. My mother told me, she said, "Abortion has to be legal because," she said, "if it's not legal it's going to be done in back alleys and then we're going to get the mess in the emergency room." Where not only are you going to lose the baby, you're going to lose the mother too or the possibility of that. See, it doesn't go away. People are under this wrong influence that if our elected people make something against the law that somehow it's going to disappear. No, it's just going to go under the table, be more expensive, and the whole thing. Just like marijuana now. I've done some studying on the prices. It's illegal in Minnesota, but it's legal in Colorado Do you know what the price difference is?

TCC: No.

GJV: A bag of quality marijuana in Minnesota will cost you 400 bucks, in Colorado it'll cost you 100 and a quarter. Medical Marijuana, a pill that you've got to pay for -- which, it's allowed in Minnesota, but it's so restricted -- costs $600 a month. If you live in Colorado you can get the same medical marijuana for $30 a month. See why it needs to be legalized across the board?

TCC: Well, it makes more sense that it would be anyway, and it would be great to tax it.

GJV: Yes! And it's like my mother said to me, my mom lived through the prohibition of alcohol and before she died she told me -- she said, "The war on drugs is identical to the prohibition of alcohol: all you're doing is making criminals rich and powerful." And that's all you're doing. So, clearly, upper-echelon people of our country are dealing drugs and becoming rich and powerful because of it, otherwise there wouldn't be this illegality fight for it. Because, the people that want it illegal are generally the people that are profiting from its illegality.

Because the price goes up ten times, and then crime goes up, see. People fail to realize that. If the price of the drug they want to use is through the roof, well then they're going to have to commit crimes to get the money to get the drug. You don't see any crimes committed over a pack of cigarettes or a bottle of beer, do you?

TCC: Well, not regularly, other than somebody trying to [boost?] them.

GJV: But the point is -- you get my point?

TCC: I do, sir.

GJV: Where, if it's illegal, then the price is ten times more expensive and then they have to go rob a store to get money to support their habit. Then you've got another crime because of it coming back to the illegality of the substance. If the person could go get the substance at a reasonable price, then they wouldn't commit crimes to get it. A wine-o can always get a buck for a bottle of wine, can't he?

TCC: Yeah.

GJV: You can go out and panhandle and do that. See? That's what the war on drugs causes. The war on drugs causes other supplemental crimes to take place because of the original illegality of it. But then again, that's the other reason that they're fighting it is the corporate prisons they have now. Because they've privatized all our prisons, corporations have to make money, and the only way they can make money is, I believe, the prisons have to be at least 80-90 percent full. That's why the United States -- which is home of the brave, land of the free - we have more people in prison than any other country in the world. How can we call ourselves land of the free? You're not free if you're in jail, are you? And we have more people in jail than even China [chuckles], and people here aren't troubled by that? And the reason is because the prisons are corporate run, and they need to be full. That's why you need the war on drugs to put all these pot smokers in prison so that the prisons remain full and the corporations remain profitable. It's a slippery slope.

TCC: What about biodiesel made from marijuana?

GJV: Talk to Willie. Willie Nelson runs his buses on it. He ain't just smoking it. He's driving his buses with it. I spent an afternoon with Willie. Every one of Willie's tour buses is run on marijuana [laughter]. Not just the inside, either. The outside too.

I'm just imagining it permeates the entire thing [laughter]. All of Willie's buses use biodiesel fuel from marijuana.

TCC: His company is something called BioWillie or something like that, isn't it?

GJV: Yeah [chuckles]. So Willie talks the talk and walks the walk. I tip my hat. I'm a great admirer. I don't care for country music that much, but I admire the hell out Willie Nelson.

I think he's great. I got the good fortune…I spent an afternoon at Willie's ranch with him and played golf on his own nine hole golf course.

TCC: Cool.

GJV: Yeah, Willie's got all that down in Texas. He's got the world down there and it could not happen to a better man. He and I were laughing because we both talked about early careers how when he'd play, I think the first payoff he got he made 12 cents [laughter]. And I told him wrestling was the same way. I said, "I had one where I drove 315 miles, 630-mile round trip, paid for my own gas and everything and food, by the end of the day I made $2 [laughter]." That was a 16-hour workday that I made $2 [laughter]. Willie and I had that in common for the early parts of our career. No, I consider Willie a friend and I admire him. He's a wonderful, great man.

You can buy Jesse Ventura's Marijuana Manifesto here and find out about readings and events on Twitter @GovjVentura.

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Michelle Tompkins

Michelle Tompkins is an award-winning media, PR and crisis communications professional with more than ten years experience with coverage in virtually every traditional and new media outlet. She is currently a communications and media strategist and writer, as well as the author of College Prowler: Guidebook for Columbia University. She served as the Media Relations Manager for the Girl Scouts of the USA where she managed all media and talking points, created social media strategy, trained executives and donors and served as the organization’s primary spokesperson, participating in daily interviews with local, regional, and national media outlets. She managed the media for the Let Me Know internet safety and Cyberbullying prevention campaign with Microsoft, as well as Girl Scouts’ centennial Year of the Girl To Get Her There celebration in 2012, which yielded more than 800 million earned media impressions. In addition to her extensive media experience, Michelle worked as a talent agent in Los Angeles, California, as well contracting as a digital content developer and her writing has appeared in newspapers and online. She is passionate about television, theater, classic movies, all things food and in-home entertaining. While she has lived and worked in NYC for more than a decade, she is from suburban Sacramento and gets back there often to watch the San Francisco Giants on TV with her family.

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