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Jesse Ventura, former professional wrestler and governor of Minnesota, is getting a new commentary show called "The World According to Jesse" on RT America, a branch of Russian state television. He says he'll be able to cover whatever topics he chooses without being censored.
Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson talks with Ventura (@GovJVentura) about Russia, why he's an advocate of legalizing marijuana and what he thinks of the Trump presidency. Ventura is also an author, and his latest book is "Jesse Ventura's Marijuana Manifesto."
On airing his new show on Russia Today
"It's the same as PBS, really. It's just financed by the Russian government. My internet show had played on there for a while and they don't censor me. They allow me to speak freely and they've virtually told me they will never, ever do anything. I can talk about any subject matter that I want. And it seems bizarre to me because I'm 65, and I grew up and lived through the entire Cold War, that it's the Russians who are giving me free speech, when I'm kinda blackballed here in the United States. I don't get the interviews that I should, because I ask and raise questions that, a lot of people, it makes them uncomfortable."
On why he wants to appear on Russian state television
"My mother and father are both World War II veterans. Not many people can say that, that their mom was. Well my dad had six bronze battle stars. He fought in North Africa, Normandy, Remagen Bridge, Battle of the Bulge, Anzio and Berlin. And he didn't talk much about the war to me as a kid. But what he did talk about was when he got to Berlin, and the fantastic friendship he made with the Russians.
"Well, before the war was even over Russia became our enemy. Why? Because they were communist and we're run by Wall Street. And Wall Street's biggest fear is socialism. They'd rather get in bed with Nazis or fascists any day than a socialist. So we became immediate enemies with Russia. Well I'm sick of it. My entire 65 years on the planet we've had this Cold War with Russia going on. My belief is, how about being friends for a while? We can always go back to being enemies. Maybe we can accomplish something by being friends. So if what I do helps bridge that gap, I'm happy to do it in the latter years of my life now, when I have to pick out what I'm gonna work on, and I can't do everything."
On Russian meddling in the 2016 election
"Really? Well let's look at some hypocrisy for a moment. Nobody says this — this is what you're gonna hear on Jesse Ventura's show — how many elections worldwide have we interfered in? A lot of them. Tons of them. Dozens of them. I watched the big one on TV. CBS had it the other day, the NSA said this and that, and then they actually did a disclaimer at the end. They said, 'But, it was assured it had no bearing on the results of our election.' Well then who cares? This is like 'Spy vs. Spy' in Mad magazine."
"My entire 65 years on the planet we've had this Cold War with Russia going on. My belief is, how about being friends for a while? We can always go back to being enemies."Jesse Ventura
On meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin
"Yeah, they flew me to Russia because I wanted to... I didn't do this haphazardly. They flew me to Moscow and I went to the 10-year anniversary of RT. Vladimir Putin was the keynote speaker that night. And I'll give you my impression of Vladimir Putin: I think he is a patriotic Russian. Now, shouldn't the president of Russia be a patriotic Russian?"
On the Trump presidency
"I don't like it, because I'm a huge climate advocate, and I think that pulling out of [the Paris climate agreement] is the worst decision this country could have possibly made. We're so stupid here. We want to go backwards instead of forward. Why would we want to back up to coal again, to fossil fuel again? Let's strive to the future, Donald Trump. Take us in like 'Star Trek' to places we haven't been."
On drug legalization
"If you wanna end the deaths, and end the cartels and these drug wars and these massive killings and things, the only way to do it is through legalization. Fighting them with armies and all that, and causing violence — violence leads to violence. And that isn't the way to solve it. The way to solve it is to use intellect and smarts. And even my mother said to me — the World War II vet who was a nurse — she said to me before she passed on, she said, 'You know, the war on drugs is identical to the prohibition of alcohol.' She said, 'All you're doing is making criminals rich and powerful.' You're making criminals rich and powerful by keeping these things illegal. I'm not saying you sell them at the 7-Eleven. I'm saying you'd sell them in hospitals and clinics. It's a disease. Addiction is a disease, to where the addict can go seek help instead of being put in prison to support privatized prisons, so that corporations can make money."
This segment aired on June 19, 2017.