It was almost 16 years ago, on November 3, 1998, when Jesse Ventura "shocked the world" and was elected governor of Minnesota. Back in 1998, I was working for the Republican Party of Minnesota as a field staffer and I remember how Ventura's candidacy took everyone by surprise.
Ventura, the actor and former professional wrestler, was not considered a credible candidate for governor. His only previous political experience had been serving as mayor of Brooklyn Park.
Ventura served one-term as governor, deciding not to seek re-election in 2002. Ventura's time as governor was less eventful than I expected, but he certainly cemented his place in Minnesota history as our most colorful governor.
Ventura's election as governor certainly "shocked the world", but he saved his most bizzare and shocking behavior for until he left the governor's office.
Ventura has provided conflicting statements if he believes Vice-President Dick Cheney was aware of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 before they happened. Ventura said America was "a fascist country", language which draws references to Nazi Germany. Ventura, the former Navy SEAL, also said he would "never stand for a national anthem again."
In 2009, Ventura decided to use his credibility as a former governor to address important issues facing America: conspiracy threories. Ventura hosted a television show, Conspriracy Threories with Jesse Ventura, which aired for three years. Ventura reported on conspiracies such as world leaders who were actually shape-shifting lizards and the potential theft of the Great Lakes.
Ventura is currently suing the estate of former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle over claims he was defamed in Kyle's book "American Sniper," and in media interviews by Kyle. Kyle was killed in 2013 at a shooting range in Texas. Ventura had initiated his lawsuit before Kyle was killed, but Ventura decided to add Kyle's widow to the suit as a representative of the estate after Kyle was killed.
Yesterday afternoon in the courtroom, after court recessed for the day, Ventura was asked by someone observing the trial if he would show them his tattoo of the SEAL insignia on his chest. Randy Furst of the Star Tribune captured the moment, writing that Ventura "undid two or three buttons and briefly opened his white dress shirt to reveal the tattoo on his chest. One of his lawyers pulled on his shoulder and Ventura turned away, closing the shirt."
Like a stunt man who keeps performing the same old trick, people just aren't excited anymore by Ventura's tired act, regardless of how much he tries. The credibility Ventura gained when he was elected governor has been washed away in the years since he left office. The world can't be shocked anymore by Jesse Ventura.
Picture source: Jesse Ventura, November 3, 1998, WUSA.