As a Navy Seal, Pro Wrestler, Mayor and now Minnesota's Governor, Jesse Ventura has always been brash. Currently he's under fire for everything from budget woes to his outside activities, like TV work. As he enters the last months of his first term, the independent discussed his future with TIME's Matthew Cooper.
YOU'RE STILL DECIDING ABOUT WHETHER TO RUN AGAIN THIS FALL. WHY THE AMBIVALENCE? Our legislature is still in session, and I don't think you turn your attention to getting re-elected until you've finished the job. My other reason is that these campaigns are far too expensive these days. Plus, I don't know yet.
ARE THE POLLS WRONG, OR ARE YOU LESS POPULAR? I don't know if they're wrong or not. All I know is that as I walk around the state of Minnesota, people come up to me and say, Keep doing what you're doing.
LIKE A LOT OF GOVERNORS, YOU HAVE A BUDGET SHORTFALL. IS IT LESS FUN NOT HAVING MONEY? I went through three years of budget surplus, and that was difficult, because every special-interest group wants that money.
WHAT'S THE BEST PART OF BEING GOVERNOR? The education of it. You're in charge of 25 departments of state government.
THE WORST PART? The media won't let you have a private life.
ARE YOU BUMMED ABOUT THE STATE OF THIRD PARTIES? Third parties can still drive the agenda. We can, because the [major parties] want to stop us.
YOUR TAKE ON GEORGE BUSH? He's doing good internationally, but I'm disappointed in him. Being a former Governor, he came in and said he'd be a huge advocate of federalism. He's done the opposite. Cases in point: Oregon, with its assisted-suicide law. They voted on it twice. Yet in comes the Federal Government saying, "We don't care." On medical marijuana, you have seven states voting to approve it. Yet in comes the Federal Government saying to any doctor who gives it out, "We'll take your license away." President Bush wants to control everything at the presidential level.
WHAT ABOUT THIS MESS IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH? Pedophiles are hunters, and they're going to put themselves into positions where they can prey on victims. And who could be more trusted than a priest? It tears your heart out.
SHOULD CLERGY WHO REASSIGN A SUSPECTED PEDOPHILE BE PROSECUTED? I believe so, yes. A crime is a crime, regardless of what collar you wear.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FELLOW WRESTLER THE ROCK? I used to wrestle his father, Rocky Johnson. You know what I love about Dwayne, The Rock? He is so respectful of the older wrestlers.