Photography by Jen Cress

You won’t find yourself sitting next to former Gov. Jesse Ventura on a commercial flight these days. 

Last November, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Ventura. The suit alleged airport security procedures such as pat downs and full-body scanning constitute unreasonable searches and seizures forbidden by the Fourth Amendment. 

Ventura promptly announced he’d never fly commercially again and that he’d seek citizenship in Mexico, where he has a second home.

But that was only one of the subjects Ventura spoke about during a wide-ranging interview with Artful Living Publisher Frank Roffers and Contributing Editor Rudy Maxa when they sat down in St. Paul’s Lowertown to discuss his take on travel. 

The conversation also touched on why fluoride in the nation’s drinking water might be making the American electorate passive, what it’s like living off the grid in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, what Ventura considers his major legacy to Minnesota from his time in office and Fidel Castro’s unusual handshake. 

Artful Living began by asking Ventura about his second home.

This is a travel issue, so let’s talk about Mexico. We’re curious about your life there. There seems to be some ambivalence on your part about the United States and…

No, not at all — it was all about adventure. I got out of office, I taught at Harvard in ’04 and when I was done at Harvard, I felt I was young enough and I was [in go enough] financial shape and that the window of opportunity of adventure was closing for me. 

Had you been to Mexico before?

I’d vacationed there twice: right after I got out of office and then the year after I left Harvard. And it was then that I found my home down there. And that was the express purpose of why I went down there. I rented a car and put 1,800 kilometers on it in about 10 days.

Did you know you wanted to live off the grid?

I always wanted to live by the ocean, and at first I wanted Hawaii. And then the Baja came up, and I found the Baja more attractive because, No. 1, economically, it is far less expensive than Hawaii. And, No. 2, it gives you double option, which today I’m happy for.

Double option?

I can drive there. Which is what I do. So since I’ve ceased flying, it’ll have no bearing on my going to Mexico because I’ve been driving it for six years already. 

And how off the grid are you?

I’m way off the grid. I’m an hour from pavement and an hour from electricity. My house is solar, so the sun generates my electricity. The sun which I worship today. I follow the teachings of George Carlin.

We’re not familiar with the teachings of George Carlin as they apply to the sun.

George Carlin was an atheist who worshipped the sun because it brought him everything he needed. He said, “It brings me heat, it grows me food, it brings me light, and you know what it does most of all?” And I’m paraphrasing him. He said, “Every morning it comes up, and I can see it — that gives it great credibility. I can see it. I know it exists.”

How many months do you spend in Mexico?

About half the year. 

How’s the real-estate market in Mexico?

It’s dead, like here. It died right when we did. Let’s remember something about most of our bordering countries — when the United States sneezes, they catch a cold. 

It’s embarrassing that Mexico does real estate better than we do. 

In the United States, generally we penalize good behavior and reward bad. Case in point: property taxes. If you buy a home and you fix it up and make it better and be a good citizen, how are you rewarded? You pay more. They penalize you. You get to pay the government higher taxes. 

So you should buy a house, let it deteriorate, let it become the eyesore of the block. What will the government do then? They’ll reward you; they’ll probably drop your taxes. Makes a lot of sense, don’t it, for positive thinking?

Now, people say you can’t own in Mexico. And technically you can’t: The international bank owns it, and you have a 50-year lease automatically renewed for another 50. So I say this will become an issue when I become 104 or whatever.

In Mexico, here’s how property taxes work: They’re due in March. If you pay them in January, they knock off 20%. If you pay them in February, they knock off 10%. March is normal, and then the fines start. That’s called rewarding good behavior.

Jesse Ventura goes down on January 28, pays his taxes. February is a short month, so that means in 30 days, I get 20% on my money legally. Tell me where else I can do that. 

It doesn’t end there. When I made the statement that I would seek Mexican citizenship, there’s also a reason for it. Not only would it be easier to cross the border, but if you’re a property owner and a citizen of Mexico, when you turn 65, they cut your property taxes in half. 

Mexico believes when a family owns a home and has worked hard all their lives, they should have the dignity to die in their own home. In the United States, we believe once you get on fixed income, you continue to raise the property taxes so high that the fixed-income person can’t afford it. That’s how the elderly lose their homes. And we seem OK with that.

Well, I think Mexico does it a whole lot better. 

Now, do you want the crying news? Here it is. Property taxes were designed initially to provide police, fire and roads. Where I live now in Dellwood [Minnesota], I pay nearly $18,000 a year for that. In Mexico, they grade my road three or four times a year, I’ve seen police around from time to time, and fire I don’t have to worry about because all the homes are made out of cement. And to my knowledge, other than the World Trade Centers, cement don’t burn. 

And my houses are of equal value, pretty close. My house here is a little more expensive, but my house in Mexico is well into seven figures. My property taxes on the beach are $500 a year. 

And you get $100 off if you pay your property taxes in January?

Well, it buys me a couple tanks of gas. 

Do you surf in Mexico? What do you do?

I wake up with nothing to do and when I go to bed at night, I’m half done. Yes, I surf. I ATV … I shouldn’t talk about it because it will attract people. It’s horrible in Mexico. There are shootouts every night, we hunker down — it’s like being in Beruit, Lebanon. Going to Vietnam would be far easier; you can’t drink the water [in Mexico]. Print all that!

The unique thing about where I live, two ecosystems collide: the desert and the water. I live a quarter mile from the largest sand dune in the Baja. This thing is the size of buildings. And I have a spot where I can go up and sit and see no sign of human life. And out of my left ear I hear the desert, and out of my right ear I hear the ocean. 

I have a whole new lifestyle — not like here. They ain’t worried about the stock market down there. I had a neighbor who spent six months digging a well. I asked him why it took him so long. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and he goes, “It would have taken a lot longer had there been good waves.” [Laughs]

In the surfer lifestyle, no matter what you’re doing, you stop and ride waves until they’re done.

So you’re going to be driving everywhere?

Driving, taking the train.

Will you fly privately?

Sure. You’re not checked private. But private is extremely expensive. 

And that’s a result of this lawsuit?

Right. This is a constitutional issue. I sued under the Fourth Amendment [which protects Americans against unreasonable search and seizures]. And a federal judge says she doesn’t have jurisdiction? 

Who does then? 

No one. What should that tell you?

At airports you’re not protected by the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. You’re on your own. You have no place to get redress. You have no place to seek out if they abuse you. You have to just take it. And it begs the bigger question: Why is it the government’s job to provide security for the airlines when they’re a private business? Why shouldn’t they provide their own security?

They don’t want to spend the money. 

If you go to Timberwolves games, who provides security? The private sector. Why should airlines get a pass? If the airlines did their own security, then I could have a relationship with Delta Air Lines where they would know Gov. Ventura poses no threat. When he shows his passport, he doesn’t have to be searched for anything. Put him on the plane. He’s flown for millions of miles. He’s a former mayor, a former governor, an honorably discharged United States military veteran. 

And it’s arbitrary. Did you know John Boehner, the speaker of the House, is not subjected to searches at the airport? 

We did not.

Well, how is he any more patriotic than me? I spent six years with the underwater demolition SEAL team, the most elite unit in the United States Navy. John Boehner spent seven weeks at boot camp and was discharged medically. Six years to seven weeks. And yet they consider him more patriotic than me.

Let’s talk Minnesota. What do you think was your greatest legacy as governor?

Light rail. That was my baby.

That was your proudest… 

Oh, I don’t know if it’s my proudest, but it’s the most predominant, the most visible one you’ll see because had I not done light rail, it wouldn’t be here. Light rail won’t be complete until you get five or six lines. 

Your biggest disappointment?

Not getting rid of one house. You don’t need two [legislative bodies] at state government. In fact, technically, it’s against the Constitution, because the Constitution says, one person, one vote. Well, you have one person, two votes. You have two representatives. I couldn’t even get them to vote it down on the floor — they wouldn’t even take it up. Why? 

They didn’t want to lose their jobs.

Exactly. I wanted to get rid of the Senate, take it down to 135. Do you realize in Minnesota we have more elected state representatives than California, [whose population is] 34 million? With a population of four million, we have 201 legislators while California has about 130.

Any other regrets?

No, not really. My biggest regret was not getting the chance to change this government to a unicameral legislature. Nebraska has had it for about 90 years, and Nebraska’s never had to call a special session because they couldn’t reach a budget conclusion. How many special sessions have we had in the past 25 years? One every year. 

Do you think if you ever ran for a Senate or House seat in Minnesota that you’d win?

I wouldn’t run. I’ve been a mayor, a governor — the only thing I’d go for would be a president or vice president. I don’t think with my personality I could make it in the legislature. I’ve only been in the executive branch, where you get to make decisions as an executive. You don’t have to form a coalition, you don’t have to go around and kiss everyone’s butt, you know, to get something done. So logically I think I would go crazy if I got elected.

How about the next ambassador to Cuba?

I’d love that. And I am dead serious about that. I’ve been there, and I think the Cuban people and I would get along great. In fact, to my knowledge, I’m the only elected official who, while elected, had a one-hour meeting with Fidel Castro.

And what prompted that?

I wanted to see Cuba. I have no trust for my government, I don’t believe what they tell me and I believe if I go somewhere I can get a much better perspective on a place than I can by simply listening to what politicians and the government tell me here.

So you enjoyed Cuba?  

Oh, very much.  I spoke at the University of Havana and received an ovation when the first thing I said was that the boycott should be immediately eliminated. The boycott is worthless. We’re under this false pretense that if we make life difficult for the Cuban people, they’ll rise up and overthrow Fidel. I have news for us: It ain’t gonna happen, because they have personal pride in their country. They’re not going to kowtow to the wishes of the Yankees.  

What was your most distinct memory of sitting down with Fidel Castro?

His handshake.

Firm?

Different. And I’ve shaken a lot of hands as a mayor and governor. He winds up. He cocks his hand very high and thrusts it down with great enthusiasm, and I’d never seen anyone do that.

Great grip?

No, he’s not a squeezer. And Castro, his initial thing was, he looked me in the eye and said, “You’re a man of great courage.” And I called him Mr. President — because he does have elections, it’s just that he’s the only candidate — and I said, “Well, Mr. President, how can you say that? You don’t know me.”

And he said, “Because you defied your president to come here.”

And I kinda laughed and said, “Well, you’ll find I kind of defy most everything.” And he started laughing. 

Here’s one for you that has never been made public before — you want it?

Yes, sir.

Now, it’s illegal for Cuba to have anything in this country — they don’t have an ambassador, they don’t have nothin. Right before I left office, my chief of staff told me, “You can’t go home today; you gotta go to the governor’s residence. You got a visitor you got to meet at four o’clock.”

And he wouldn’t tell me what it was about except that when everyone was gone, he whispered, “Cuba.”  

I said, “OK.”

See, that’s why we couldn’t do it at the Capitol. They had to be at the governor’s residence where it’s closed — nobody there, nobody knows. I went to the residence and this representative showed up — I believe via the Swiss embassy. He was there to deliver me a message. At that time, I was not seeking re-election. This was at the point I was leaving office.

He was there to pass this message to me. He said, “I’m here, Governor, to send you this message.  And the message is this.  

‘A friend of Cuba’s will always be a friend of Cuba’s.’”

So what they were telling me was, we understand that you’re leaving office, but [even though] you’re no longer in a position of power, you will still be a friend of Cuba because you will always be.

And I’m proud — and you’re the first media that, to my knowledge, I’ve ever told that story to.  But Fidel said to me when I left, “The next time you come to Cuba, you bring your wife and your family as my guest.”

Do you want to give us a hint of one or two of the conspiracies coming up on your new Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura shows in 2012 on truTV? 

They’re going to be way out there. We’ve done 16 of them already, so we’re adding eight more, and this year there will be a couple of them I won’t buy into. 

So you’ll debunk them?

Not with the intention of debunking them — we always take the conspiratal (sic) side, but if it doesn’t add up, I always have the ability to say, “I’m not buying this fully. There’s gotta be more evidence because there are holes in it.”

Will these be the first two you say this about?

Could be. I just do the show — I don’t go out intentionally to say, “Yes, I believe in this one; no, I don’t believe in that one.” I allow the investigation to take place, more or less let the chips fall where they may, and then at that point I make a judgment. And even if I disagree with the conspiracy, I still agree there’s a lot of weird stuff about it. 

How does your wife, Terry, fit into the Jesse program?

Fine. 

She’s cool with Mexico, with the fact you carry no cell phone, don’t do email?

Absolutely. She married me 36 years ago. I was eccentric then. She knew what she was getting, she’s been along for the ride and I think if you ask her, she wouldn’t regret one minute of it.

You’re 60. Do you look back on your life and regret anything?

Never, because there’s nothing you can do about it, so why would you regret something you have no control over? It’s water under the bridge. You can’t bring it back. But to sit and regret something, never.

So you sort of live for today and tomorrow? You’ll take it when it comes?

That’s all you can live for. You have to live for the moment. And in doing my conspiracy shows last year, it’s opened my eyes that the moment may be more multidimensional than what we think.

Other conspiracies — contrails of jet planes spreading poison from the skies?

Here’s my problem with chemtrails. Everybody tells me about them, that they’re leaving those chemicals up there, right? But if the elites are doing this, aren’t they getting it, too? If they’re leaving all these chemicals following all the planes — and I see them, and it shouldn’t be that way, something is going on with it — but if they’re truly poisoning all of us, aren’t they getting it, too? And their kids? Because if it’s being done in the atmosphere up there, we’re all breathing the same damn air. 

Fluoride in our water supply?

They started putting fluoride in our water in the 1950s to make our teeth healthier. That’s what they told us. You know who started putting fluoride in the water? The Nazis. They were the first to discover it. They started to put fluoride in the water — we learned from them, and our excuse was healthy teeth.

Maybe my problem is that — not by my own design — but all the homes I’ve owned, I’ve had my own well, so I haven’t drunk water with fluoride in it, or very much of it, anyway. And here’s the problem. You know what fluoride is the major ingredient of? Prozac. So when you’re drinking, in essence you’re drinking liquid Prozac. Look online!

90% of Prozac is fluoride. So by putting fluoride in the water, you’re in essence drinking liquid Prozac. What is Prozac used for? To make you calm, to dumb you down, opiate the masses. Then you can sell them war easier, you can get them to go along.

Do you believe an airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11?

No. I base most of my 9/11 beliefs on having talked to people who survived. And they were there. Many of them tell a different story than the official government story, and they were shut up.

So what do you think crashed into the Pentagon?

I have no idea. People always say, “Well, where did that plane go?” And if you can’t answer that then they consider you … Well, how would I know? Only the perpetrators know. 

But I base my Pentagon belief on a young lady named Sgt. April Gallop. She had a top-secret security clearance, and she worked in the very room where the alleged plane hit. And, in fact, she staggered out the hole and collapsed on the lawn, and that’s where she recovered. 

So if anyone knows about what hit in that building, it would be April, and she is today receiving psychological help for post-traumatic stress because of her vivid memories. Not because of her vague memories, her vivid memories. And April looked me right in the eye and said, “Governor, there was no plane. I saw no wreckage, no wings, no luggage, no bodies. I staggered out the hole, and there was not a hole.” 

I tend to believe her more than I do Dick Cheney.

There were people driving by on George Washington Parkway who said they saw the plane careen into the Pentagon, and it was basically pulverized.

Really? How can that happen when the engines on those planes are made out of carbon titanium steel that’s the hardest substance known to man? How could that get pulverized by cement? Wouldn’t the wings have been severed off and been lying on the ground? Wouldn’t there be debris? At every plane crash, there’s debris, stuff all over. 

I love to use common sense. Tie that in to the day before 9/11, when Donald Rumsfeld got on TV and talked about how the Pentagon could not account for about a trillion dollars they had spent, and, amazingly, where that alleged plane hit is right where all that data would have been kept. And it went away. You never heard another word about this lost Pentagon money after 9/11. Yet the day before, Rumsfeld had a press conference on it. 

How ironic that these hijackers would pick out. I mean they must have heard Rumsfeld talk about it, they must have gotten top-secret data to know where that data was kept so they could fly around and find the exact spot to fly that plane into to destroy all that data.

I was a reporter at the Washington Post, and I always said the truth is stranger than fiction, but… 

Plus, I spoke to the head guy from Pilots for 9/11 Truth, and they told me the plane could not do what the government’s data said it did. It went over its red line three times. That’s a red line like on a car. You can’t drive a plane over a red line or it’ll blow up. When I drive my Porsche, I don’t go over the red line on my tachometer — it’s not highly recommended to do that.

Well, planes are the same way. He said, “I’m not giving you an opinion, here, Governor; I’m going by the official data provided by the U.S. government that they gave on that plane. And that plane could not do what they said it did. It could not be flown like it was.”

Another thing we’re going to investigate is time travel. There’s been a government program in place for years going into that, and how successful have they been? 

The great thing about doing the TV shows is that the great majority of conspiracies deal with the government, and the government is so deceitful that you’ve got an unending supply of shows. 

World organizations often rank countries by all kinds of measures, such as which ones have the most corruption and so on. Is the United States a bad country?

We’re a bully. There’s no doubt. When you look at terrorism or the supposed war on terror, the question needs to be asked: Why are we the target? It isn’t just the religion. Clearly, it’s our behavior throughout the world. 

Isn’t that a role we were really forced into by virtue of our economic and military might? Australia can’t step in and run a Berlin airlift, for example. 

So we need bases all over the world? With modern technology, we can be anywhere in the world in a matter of moments. We can reach anywhere with our ballistic missile system. Look where those bases are. Massive amounts in Japan, Germany and Korea, and if I recollect correctly, haven’t those wars been over for 50 years? Why would it require us to have massive amounts of military occupation in all of these countries? And when you look at the terrorists, the main gripe is that we’re in their country. So let’s get out.

Why do you think we have bases in say, Germany, now?

We have bases there because they’re not to serve the American people. The military is there to be the strong arm muscle of corporations. 

But Germany doesn’t need us to do anything for them.

That’s not the point — it’s occupation. We’re an empire. We’re trying to be the Roman Empire, trying to inflict our beliefs on the rest of the world, and if they won’t cooperate, we’ll make them cooperate. 

So you wouldn’t have sent those 2,500 Marines into Australia as the White House did in November?

It’s a good thing I did not seek re-election for governor of Minnesota because [I would have been] the commander in chief of the Minnesota National Guard. When George Bush ordered the National Guard to participate in the invasion of Iraq, I would not have allowed the Minnesota National Guard to participate in that. Which would have probably required President Bush to relieve me of my command, because he’s the commander of the whole United States. 

How embarrassing would that be to have had a guy who couldn’t even make it to National Guard meetings remove a former Navy SEAL of his command? 

When George Bush invaded Iraq, he destroyed my American dream. My father was a World War II vet with six bronze battle stars, my mother was a World War II vet in North Africa — they’re both buried at Ft. Snelling — my brother and I both served in Vietnam. I never believed that my country would line up our military at the border of another sovereign nation that didn’t do anything to us — that we would invade that country, overthrow its government and occupy that country. That’s what the Nazis did, that’s what the Communists did and now we’ve done it.

George Bush and Dick Cheney destroyed my belief in America. We are no longer the country that I can believe in because of what we did in Iraq.

What would you have done in response to the attack in 9/11?

If I had the wherewithal, 9/11 wouldn’t have happened because I would have heeded the warnings. Our government was well-warned that those attacks could take place. I believe today that if we didn’t participate in them, we certainly knew they were going to happen, and we did nothing to stop them. It was a false-flag operation to put us in these wars. 

Take a look at all wars. They started with what they call false-flag operations where a country does something to convince its people to go to war. Vietnam? The Gulf of Tonkin incident. When I was teaching at Harvard, [former Secretary of Defense] Robert McNamara came through and admitted it never happened. Some 58,000 of my generation were killed, probably a million Vietnamese killed — who knows how many — over something that never occurred.

9/11, in my opinion, was the same kind of thing. It was a Pearl Harbor false-flag operation done to put us in the wars.

But Pearl Harbor wasn’t a false-flag operation.

It very well may have been. There are many people who think we forced the Japanese to attack us. We embargoed them, we took away their oil. They were left with the choice: surrender or attack. We boxed them in a corner; they had to attack us.

But things didn’t work out that well, in hindsight, with our invading Iraq.

Well, I don’t know. When you look at it, it confuses me because Sadam was vehemently opposed to Iran. And he was a Sunni, and Iran’s people are Shiites. We’ve now put the Shiites in charge of Iraq, the same Muslims in charge of Iran. Remember what Col. L. Fletcher Prouty said: “Nothing just happens — everything is planned.” So they probably had plans all along to go to war with Iraq, and this is all part of the vast scheme. 

Let me put it to you this way: I’m a post-World War II child. Do you realize my country has been at war almost half of my life? 

No other country in the world in the past 60 years has been at war more than us. We are the war mongers of the world. When I go to Mexico, I know the government of Mexico is corrupt. But when you go there with that knowledge, it doesn’t affect you as much. We up here think our government isn’t corrupt.

Couple of predictions, please. Who do you think will be the next president of the United States?

Barack Obama.

And Michele Bachman doesn’t have a chance?

She had her day in the sun. She was on top of the heap for a fleeting moment, but she’s lost momentum. Politically, other than Ron Paul, when I look at the cast of characters the Republicans are offering, no wonder no one can get the lead. Gingrich — I mean, excuse me, they found out he got part of the Fannie Mae bailout as a consultant. What does Newt know about mortgages? Did he ever work in real estate? Excuse me, I’ve got to rant. How would Newt Gingrich be hired as a consultant for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac? What was his expertise?

To me, that disqualifies him. He got bailed out by taxpayer money and happily took it. Now, let me go a step further. You got Rick Perry and Bachman and a few others who have said that God told them to run. Well, to me that disqualifies them to be president right there. They’re delusional.

Do you regret remarks you’ve made about religion in the past?

Absolutely not, because they are factual. Organized religion is a crutch for weak-minded people. I’ve come out of the closet now. I watched Christopher Hitchens on Bill Maher’s show, and he said it’s time for us to come out of the closet. 

He said it’s time for us atheists to stand up and be proud and say, “Yes, we believe in science, we believe in facts, we don’t believe in superstitions.” So I proudly state that I’m an atheist now. I felt so good when Barack Obama gave his inauguration speech because for the first time in history we were included.

I was listening to it, and he went down and all of a sudden he got down to, “Christians, Muslims, Jews, blah blah blah,” and at the end he said, “nonbelievers.” It was the first time in history the president included atheists in his inaugural speech. First time. So now we’re legal. The president has acknowledged us, so we’re real.

Because I am and have been for some time. I’m open to the fact that there might be a supreme being, but you’ve got to show me. And there’s no proof. As I tell people: I don’t believe in God as I don’t believe in the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy and Santa Claus.

So I probably can’t get elected again because I don’t believe in this country that an atheist can get elected because this country is so fascist now. You know what the basic definition of “fascist” is, don’t you? It’s when corporations team with organized religion to control the government. That’s facism. We’re there. 

Were you surprised by what happened with Gov. Schwarzenegger?

I was hugely disappointed. Maria is a close friend of mine, and she’s a marvelous person, and she didn’t deserve it. My sympathy is to her completely. As she did and would do, and I knew she would, she handled it totally with class. 

I’ve done three films with Arnold. I was there when they got married. Arnold left during Predator to fly to Hyannis Port to get married and brought Maria back. So Maria was on the set with us for three weeks. That’s where I first met her. So when that all broke, the only feelings I felt [were] sheer anger at him and sympathy with her.

Did he help get you elected as governor?

No. 

He came to see you at your inauguration.

Yeah, he invited himself. He wasn’t on my original invite list. 

Why not?

Because I’m an Independent and he’s a Republican, and I didn’t think … He called up and said he wanted to come so I had to call around and scramble to find a ticket for him. 

I lost a lot of respect for Arnold for his behavior, and here’s where I lost a lot of respect for a lot of them. My position on all of this is, can’t these people show a little bit of class, a dignity to the office? When you get elected to an office like governor, senator, Congress, whatever it might be, if you have bad behavior, can’t you at least control it for the time you’re in office and serve with honor and dignity? That’s my biggest fault of them all — serve with a little honor and dignity. And does it take an Independent like me to say it? 

And I can say it. Because when I served as governor, they won’t find nothing on me. Nothing. In fact, Steve Bosacker, my chief of staff, was so protective of me. Do you know that whenever I had a meeting with a female, there would always be someone from my staff sitting in the room? Because I wasn’t going to let anyone go outside that room and say, “Oh, the governor sexually harassed me.”

Was that by your design or Steve’s design?

Steve’s design. I caught onto it later. I always kinda wondered, how come there’s always a staff person sitting back in the corner every time I do an interview? 

How do you regard the Twin Cities when you drive around? Do you think the state is being well-managed?

No. I lost great hope in Minnesota after the last governor’s election. Because we, the Independents, put Tom Horner out there, who was immensely qualified. I endorsed him, he was also endorsed by former two-time Gov. Arnie Carlson, endorsed by Al Quie,endorsed by both newspapers. He was the only candidate that put his deficit plan out before the election and laid it out for the state of Minnesota to see. The others promised the chef’s surprise like they always do: elect me and then I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do.

Well, Horner was immensely more qualified than me, and yet he got 12% of the vote. I didn’t get one endorsement. Now my attitude is, OK, Minnesota, you voted for these knuckleheads, now enjoy them.

Ever thought about running for president?

It’s too difficult. I don’t have the network — nor do I want it. Then you become what you despise.

If you could sit down for lunch with President Obama now to give him some friendly advice, what would you say?

It wouldn’t be advice, it would be criticism. I’d say, “Why haven’t you done anything that you ran on? Why did you do an about face? You said you’d end the wars, you didn’t. You said you’d close Guantanamo, you didn’t. You said you’d never raid the medical marijuana [stores] in California, you’re now raiding them and shutting them down. Why? Who really runs our country if not you, sir?”

That would be lunch?

[Laughs] And I’d say “sir” out of respect, but I would say, “Who really runs the country? Because obviously you don’t.”

You’ve said Ron Paul is your guy for president… 

He’s my guy if he goes Independent. If he runs as a Republican, I won’t vote for him. I don’t vote for Republicans or Democrats. They’re so easy to beat. I’ll put it this to you this way: If I had ballot access in all 50 states, and you allowed me in the debates, I’d be your next president.  

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.