TV Junkie: Interview with Governor Jesse Ventura, Host of 'Conspiracy Theory'
Jesse Ventura questions government institutions, official histories, and policy on "Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura" which premieres tonight at 10pm on truTV
Tonight marks the second season debut of truTV's "Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura" - their highest rated program last year. In the program Governor Jesse Ventura explores a number of conspiracy theories about our government actions and is backed up by a team of "investigators" who seem to fan out over the country to get other evidence to either back up or refute the theory. Of course, very little refutation goes on, no theory is really dispelled and the team of "investigators" seem to be little more than window dressing - but those failings don't mean that the act of asking the questions doesn't have merit. Ventura seems to relish his role in asking questions pointblank and when he is onscreen is when this show is at its best.At a time when it seems that the majority of the people in the United States, as well as the media outlets, seem to go along quietly with our military decisions as well as the history of how we got to the place we're at, it's actually refreshing to see someone out there pursuing some answers - not that Ventura is the only one doing it, but perhaps he has the highest profile. When it's a given that a handful of terrorists killed several thousand people and paralyzed the most powerful nation on earth, "Conspiracy Theory" does try to find a way to air some alternatives without them being positioned as crackpot ideas.
After talking to Ventura for 20 minutes, his passion is obvious and infectious - after talking to him we wondered if it wasn't a conspiracy that the Associated Press posted a story about Plum Island less than 9 days before the "Conspiracy Theory" premiere, a story that posits that the island has been cleaned up of medical and hazardous waste and is an environmental gem. This is probably true but how this facility got there and why the US would have been dabbling in weaponry it itself outlawed are the kinds of questions that Ventura asks.
As the interview progressed we quickly got away from the specifics of his show and spoke more about Ventura's perspective on the government and where the United States could be headed and how the cyclical problems of war and loss of freedoms might be addressed. He advocates the abolishment of political parties and a curbing of corporate power, he is not a Tea-Partier/Bagger, and nor was he anything but rational, serious, and pleasant - attributes that should be aspired to by what seems like the majority of political hacks on the scene today.
"Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura" has its season premiere at 10pm tonight on TruTV.
LAist: The first episode of "Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura" focuses on the [alleged] bio-warfare compound on Plum Island off the Long Island Sound. I spent a few days in Niantic, CT this summer right across from Plum Island. I wasn't sure what to be more concerned about: Plum Island or the enormous Millstone Nuclear Power Plant which was even closer.
Governor Jesse Ventura: For me, the biological compound is more scary. What concerned me about Plum Island is that it's 75 miles from New York City and 75 miles from Boston - that's the most populated area of our country. Why would we put something that could escape so close to these population centers? I don't understand that. And the fact that Lyme Disease had its first recorded cases in Lyme, CT and that's right across the water [from Plum Island]. Also, the godfather of Plum Island, the creator of the place, Erich Traub, was a Nazi. You start adding all that stuff up and it doesn't look like a recipe for something positive.
LAist: As illustrated in "Conspiracy Theory", it seems like there is a lot of access to the area: ferries go right by it.
Governor Jesse Ventura: Absolutely, and when you think about hurricanes - if you listen to the whistleblower we have on the show, he says that when the power goes out, the organisms that they work with there could escape. Excuse me, I don't think that's a good idea. Why are we dabbling in what could potentially be biological warfare if we ourselves claim it's illegal? What troubles me is that when we invaded Iraq, one of the primary reasons we went in there was chemical weapons - well, what is napalm if not a chemical weapon? How come we're allowed to use it and nobody else?
There's a great hypocrisy that we deal with in this country, we have all this stuff that is illegal ,supposedly, but we attack people if they have it. We're the biggest hypocrites out there. We're the most warrior-like country in the world. The sad part is that the warriors that are taking us to war aren't warriors, they're cowards. Anyway, that's another subject, let's stick to the TV show.
LAist: Well, that sounds like another TV show you should do.
Governor Jesse Ventura: I'll tell you quickly - I wasn't allowed on MSNBC and they paid my contract for 3 years.. because I opposed the Iraq War they wouldn't put me on. I was supposed to have a five-night-a-week show with them and they wouldn't allow me on and they paid me the length of my contract. In essence I was banned because my contract stated I couldn't do any cable or other television, so they handcuffed me and kept me off the air for 3 years because I opposed the Iraq War.
LAist: You mean "liberal" MSNBC?
Governor Jesse Ventura: They weren't liberal then, they were Fox Lite. Keith Olbermann might have changed their spots when he went on there. I think they assumed that because I was a Navy SEAL that I would be all gung-ho for the war but I wasn't. I opposed the war from the beginning and they wouldn't let me on the air because of that.
Don't tell me there isn't censorship in this country. Where was the debate on that war? The one thing I'll give Robert Byrd credit for was that passionate speech he gave on the Senate floor was "where is the debate?" Because there wasn't any. The thing you know about me is that I follow Jefferson who said that dissent is the greatest form of patriotism and I believe that and that's why I dissent and that's why I do this show.
LAist: You've had quite a career or set of careers, rather. There's a lot of what could be called "the American Dream" in what you've done with your life.
Governor Jesse Ventura: I just want our kids to have the same opportunities I did. The way I see this country going today is that it's going to be a thing of the past. It's because of the violation of our rights. We're losing our freedoms because of the fear of terrorism, and I've got news for you, I'd rather face the terrorists every day than lose my freedom. And yet we're willingly giving it up. Willingly! People have got to understand that when the government says that they're going to make you safe, get ready because you're going to lose your freedoms. People seem to want that, they'd rather be safe than free. The freedom is that you have to live in danger a little. Are you going to give up that freedom to be safe? I won't.
LAist: And yet we have things like Plum Island, things that don't appear to be safe?
Governor Jesse Ventura: We look at 9/11 on the show again. That's something you're not allowed to talk about. If you talk about it and show anything contrary to the government's position you're considered unpatriotic. Why? There are so many questions about 9/11 [that] I don't believe what they told us anymore. At all. I know what's alleged to have happened and I believe what I saw but then again we never saw anything at the Pentagon did we? Wait until you see the interview I did with a person on the 9/11 episode of the show. That person was right there [at the Pentagon] when it happened, they were there, and they walked out the hole. Walked out the hole where the alleged plane hit. This person is going to tell you stuff and they weren't even talked to by the 9/11 Commission.
Just like when I interviewed William Rodriguez, a survivor of the Towers. He and 13 other people - he testified behind closed doors and today there's no record of him being there and the 13 other people with him were never even interviewed. Why? They were in the building, you'd think they'd want to talk to everybody. Yet I'm considered to be an unpatriotic person because I'm investigating what my government told me that day. Can you blame me?
In 2004 I was teaching at Harvard when Robert McNamara came through. McNamara admitted right before he died that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident never happened - that was the incident that put my generation in the Vietnam War. 58,000 of us were killed over an incident that they've admitted they've made up. Sounds familiar doesn't it? What troubles me is that the people who were lied to about Vietnam are now in charge and now we're lying to the public. But there's a difference though, the leadership that lied on these wars are the cowards that wouldn't go to Vietnam: George Bush and Dick Cheney. And that makes me ashamed of my generation - that we who have been lied to, and we all know we were lied to about Vietnam, now we are in charge and our generation lies and puts us into Iraq and Afghanistan. You know why we're in Afghanistan, don't you?
LAist: I've read recently that huge mineral deposits have been found.
Governor Jesse Ventura: They claim to have just discovered it but I don't believe that, they knew all along it was there. I had always wondered why the Russians were in there, I never figured it out. There's a vein of lithium over there that they say could be worth a trillion dollars. And what is lithium? It goes into every cell phone, computer, and soon every electric car. Come on - is somebody really going to believe that we're there to get the Taliban? That's the excuse?
LAist: I had thought that we'd been doing a lot of mineral exploration using satellites.
Governor Jesse Ventura: What do they want me to believe, that some Marine was on patrol and tripped over it? "Hey, look here! This looks like a vein of lithium, we'd better report this." So we "just discovered" it, that tells me why we're there. I'll put it to you this way, my father was a World War II veteran with 6 bronze battle stars and he despised the government the whole time I was growing up. He's been gone since 1991 but in my opinion he gets smarter every day. The things he told me... I'm now seeing at my age, that my father was exactly correct. He opposed the Vietnam War way before the hippies did.
LAist: How are we going to get out of this cycle?
Governor Jesse Ventura: The first thing we have to do is stop voting for Democrats and Republicans. They are the problem, they are not the solution. They are the ones who created all of this. Why would you hire the people who did it to fix it? We have to abolish political parties in this country, that's what I stand for now. I don't stand for a third party anymore. I stand to abolish all political parties because they're the problem not the solution.
I have three good people who stand with me, they're called George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and especially John Adams. John Adams stated that the downfall of America would not come from the outside, it would come from within, and he stated it would come when political parties take over the government. That's where we're at. The political parties answer to whom? The corporations.
The definition of fascism is when corporations and religion take over government. Ta dah! I believe that we are now a fascist government. People complain about Obama turning us into socialists but I think that we should be more concerned over the fact that we've been turned fascist.
We can't admit when we're wrong, as a country. A prime example: Cuba and China, they're both communists. We can't trade enough with China but we embargo Cuba. Do you want to know why? Because Cuba won't allow our corporations in and China welcomes them. That's why they're going after Hugo Chavez. He nationalized the country's oil - Hugo said "Wait a minute, the Venezuelan people should benefit from this oil, not the corporations" and he kicked out Exxon. That's why we hate him. That's why we hate everybody - if you don't go along with corporations then you incur the wrath of the US military today.
It's been going on for years. You have to read about Smedley Butler, the former Marine Corps general. He spoke about it way back at the turn of the [20th] century. Smedley Butler, who won two Congressional Medals of Honor, came out in the end and said "I was nothing but a soldier for corporate America. If they don't cooperate with corporations they send in the Marine Corps."
LAist: So this cycle has been going on for a long time.
Governor Jesse Ventura: Yeah, and it's because of the old cliche: if you don't pay attention to history you are doomed to relive it. We don't pay attention to it. What's sad is that it's now [happening] in my lifetime - we don't even wait for generations to go by, it's now decades.