By Mike Mooneyham
June 26, 2005
Whether it be the disparate worlds of politics, sports, religion or business, Jesse Ventura has been a lightning rod for controversy. Mike Mooneyham recently caught up with the former professional wrestling star and Minnesota governor in between rain-soaked rounds at a golf course in the mountains of Asheville, N.C. Among his many revelations during their One-on-One session: The brash entertainer-turned-politician is moving into a new $1.5 million home this month on the East Cape of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, realizing his lifelong dream to be a bona fide “beach bum.”
– When are you moving to Mexico?
We should be closing in the middle of June. It takes a long time down there. You don’t actually own. A foreigner can’t own property in Mexico, because of NAFTA, but the International Bank can. You get a 50-year lease with the bank that is automatically renewable for another 50. So you’re good for 100 years.
– Are you still going to maintain a home in Minnesota?
Yes, and the only reason was because of my wife. If it weren’t for my wife and her family, I’d be going to Mexico permanently. I work in L.A. now, so the move makes sense.
– Are you looking forward to doing some scuba diving?
I sure am. I used to be a frogman, so I did my share of diving. I plan to get back into it, along with surfing and living a much simpler life.
– Is the tax system better there?
It appears better on the ground level, but I’m sure Mexico has its corruption and its problems. The government does make you pay on the front end. Whatever your purchase price is, the government takes two percent of it. So if your purchase price is a million dollars, you’ll pay 20 grand to the government. They nick you there, but from that point on, my taxes will be seven hundred a year. There’s no place you can buy a $1.5 million home and be right on the ocean and pay $700 a year.
– Would you consider running for office again?
I’d consider it, but it’s highly unlikely. The challenge would be fun, but the reason I won’t is because I wouldn’t want to put my family through that again. Never. I don’t know why anyone would run today. They dig into your background, they go after your kids. Nothing is sacred to them.
– Have you started talking to the Minnesota press again?
No, and I don’t plan to. I have the same disdain for the Minnesota media that I do for pedophiles. They attacked my children multiple times just like a pedophile does. I don’t care if they know it, I don’t care if they’re (upset) about it, I don’t care if they write bad things about me. They’re doing that anyway, so what difference does that make? They’re more irritated because I won’t talk to them.
– What caused the bad blood?
They attacked my kids while I was in office, and I’ll never forgive them for that. How would you feel towards somebody if they drove your son from you? My son moved to L.A. He said, ‘Dad, I can’t live here (in Minnesota) anymore, because I feel like I’m looking over my shoulder.’ They even had the I-team up there investigating my son. This is a kid 22 years old. He doesn’t need that. He’s probably the only kid in the world who moved to L.A. for anonymity. Everybody else goes to L.A. to make a name. My son goes there because he doesn’t want to be known.
– What’s a fact about you that most people don’t know?
I was third in command of the most vicious outlaw motorcycle club in America. At least they tell me they are today. I was a member of the Mongols motorcycle club. I have been out of it for years, but the Mongols are considered the most dangerous outlaw motorcycle club in America. According to a book I’m reading, they had a 17-year war with the Hell’s Angels, and everyone assumed the Hell’s Angels would win because the Angels are so big and powerful. After 17 years and a dozen deaths on both sides, the final truce was called by the Hell’s Angels. The end result is that the Mongols can wear California on their lower rocker, and the Angels are allowed to exist in southern California.
– What’s the last book you read?
I’m reading one right now that I’ll finish on the plane on the way home called “Under and Alone.” It’s about an ATF agent who went undercover in 1998 and became a full-patch member of the Mongols motorcycle club. I’m in the book.
– Is Vince McMahon a genius?
Sure. Absolutely. He’s the P.T. Barnum of this generation. Even more of a risk-taker and a gambler. I have a great deal of respect for Vince because Vince will always roll the dice.
– Your favorite pro wrestler?
I don’t really have one now because I don’t watch anymore. But my favorite of all time is Superstar Billy Graham. Superstar Graham was my favorite without a doubt. If it weren’t for Billy Graham, there wouldn’t have been a Hogan, there wouldn’t have been a Ventura. There probably wouldn’t have been half of us. I make no bones about it.
– Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
In the Baja – on a surfboard. Maybe not a standing board, but for sure a boogie board. I might be too old to stand, but I can lie on my chest. That’s where I see myself … benevolent dictator of the Baja.
– What was the last movie you saw?
“Kingpin” on cable with my buddy Woody Harrelson.
– Is Minnesota better than it was before you became governor?
It’s in worse shape because it lost its bond rating. They’re far worse now than they were when I was there. We had a AAA bond rating, and they lost it because they wouldn’t balance the budget correctly, and the bond companies lowered them. People don’t realize how important that is. Minnesota was one of only about seven states that had a AAA bond rating at the time. What that means is that any government entity borrows money at that rate, so when a state loses its bond and it goes down, your counties, your city governments and your schools will borrow at a higher interest rate and it will cost them more money.
– What is your position on Iraq?
I’ve been opposed to the war in Iraq from day one. I had no problem with Afghanistan. People need to remember there wasn’t one Iraqi involved in 9/11. None of those hijackers were from Iraq. To me, it’s kind of like looking at Pearl Harbor. The Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor, so let’s go get Korea, since they’re Asian, too. It’s like picking out a Muslim country and just attacking them. I also opposed the Iraq war because I’m Slovak, and as a kid I remember the Red Machine, Russia, moving into Slovakia with their tanks. I always thought the United States was above that. We’re not now, because if we disagree with a government, we will now invade that country and overthrow a government. So we are no better than the communist Big Red Machine that we fought against all those years. We’re now doing exactly what they did. I’m very disappointed in my country right now.
– What is your stance on the FCC regulations?
We’re losing our free speech. It’s regulated by a group of people that are not elected, and they’re doing exactly what Nazi Germany did, except Nazi Germany did it at the point of a gun, we’re using money. They can now fine you personally if you go on the air and drop an F-bomb, you can get a $500,000 personal fine. Where’s free speech here? Excuse me. The First Amendment to the Constitution is to protect unpopular speech. It’s not there to protect popular speech, because popular speech doesn’t need protection. It’s unpopular speech that needs protection. They’re taking away that right in this country every day.
– What have you tried to do about it?
It took seven people to tell me where the money (from fines) went. Someone finally told me it goes into the General Fund. The minute I heard that it goes into the General Fund, I knew it was a backdoor tax. That’s the government profiting. The more fines they levy on the FCC, the more money they make. That’s extremely dangerous.