For former WWE star and Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, the year 2014 has been busy indeed. In the 10 months or so since he last spoke with Salon, the political iconoclast and host of Ora.TV’s “Off the Grid” has not only spent time dodging drones south of the border but has also found himself locked in a legal struggle with the estate of Chris “American Sniper” Kyle, which he ultimately won but which forced him to jump back 0n-grid for a time and live again in the United States. Now that that’s all finished with, however, Ventura is eager to head back to his second home in an “undisclosed location” in Mexico.
Recently, Salon called Ventura to talk about current events ranging from the Keystone XL pipeline to NSA reform to the war on ISIS to his views on water fluoridation. We also discussed Ventura’s thoughts about running for president in 2016, a door he’s kept wide open. Our conversation is below and has been edited for clarity and length.
Are you looking forward to getting back outside the U.S. again?
Oh, I can’t wait. Number one, the weather! I don’t like winter; never have, never will … Plus, I like going off the grid because I call it flushing my brain out. When I live down there [in Mexico] I have no television set, the only access to the world I have is the Internet, no telephone or anything like that.
So you were in the U.S. this summer when the media started getting crazy with Ebola and ISIS. I don’t know if you felt the same way, but I remember feeling like there was a lot of hysteria being promoted around that time.
Our mainstream media amplifies a lot of things now. I remember when I was doing my “Off the Grid” show and Ebola had claimed only one life in the United States at that time — I think it’s up to two now, but at the time, it was just the original gentleman who came to Texas — and, right away, my knee-jerk reactions was, “Gee, how many people last month died of drunk driving?” I tried to tell people that you have a much bigger chance, driving home today, of being killed by a drunk driver than you ever do of getting Ebola and dying from it.
That’s our mainstream media today, though. They’re all about ratings, they’re all about hype, and they’re all about making money. That’s a sad thing, because there was a time that the media used to write off the news and they’d make up for it in their entertainment or sports division; but now, unfortunately, the news has become entertainment. Case in point: when they landed that space vehicle on that comet, the No. 1 story was Kim Kardashian’s ass. I mean, come on!
Well, in the interest of keeping this conversation substantive: How’d you feel about the Keystone XL falling short of breaking the Senate filibuster?
I was ecstatic over it. I’m sure that the next Congress is going to pass it, though, and I’m hoping the president will veto it. I think Keystone is a waste; they’re deceiving the American people into thinking somehow we’re going to prosper from this oil and we’re going to be less dependent on foreign oil, but that’s not true. Why would they need to send oil down to the Gulf of Mexico? The Gulf’s already got lots of oil; BP showed us that when they had the leak. There’s plenty down there, so why would they be sending it there? They’re sending it down there to put it on ships and export it. This is nothing more than the oil companies getting a huge for-profit pipeline that I assume will be paid for by the American people and protected by our taxpaying dollars. How are we going to benefit one bit from oil being pumped down from the far reaches of the arctic of Canada to be loaded onto ships down in the Gulf?
Originally, they were going to go through Canada and do it in British Columbia. But British Columbia wouldn’t allow it, so that’s why they’ve switched directions now and they’re heading south through the United States with it. The people of this country are being deceived into thinking somehow they are going to benefit from this. They talk about the jobs; I got news for you: Once the thing is built, there’ll probably be only about 50 jobs when it’s done.
And then I would like to know, Who is responsible for the security of this pipeline? This thing will be a natural terrorist target. They’ve got people so scared in the country now that ISIS is going to invade us and do a Normandy invasion on Virginia or somewhere; they’ve got this country so paranoid. My wife said something to me the other day that was extremely profound, and I hope people in this country pay attention and read a bit of history. My wife and I do a great deal of reading and she looked at me the other day and said, “You know, the people of the United States of America right now are behaving identical to the German people in the ’30s.”