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Jesse Ventura, Conspiracy Theory Conspirator?

Impassioned monologues about government conspiracies—alien cover-ups! secret elite ruling cabals!—have long been the domain of certifiable loons and the underemployed. So it maybe it should come as more of a surprise when Jesse Ventura, a former Navy SEAL, pro wrestler, tele-pundit and Minnesota governor, launches into a few of his own. But it doesn’t.

It’s to Ventura’s credit that he can make the improbable—theories about global warming, a secret government research center in the wilds of Alaska and an imminent 2012 apocalypse—sound credible. That’s the thinking behind his new truTV series, “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura,” in which Ventura and a team of researchers/investigators hit the road to see which of those theories have some truth to them. The show debuts on December 2.

Ventura spoke with about a number of conspira-tastic topics.

On the origins of “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura”:
I find that the history books that we teach our kids with are not fully truthful, in my opinion. There’s a need to have an alternate opinion be put down in some form of media, be it on a television show or in writing, so that hundreds of years from now people can look back and say, “This stuff wasn’t written in stone. There were dissenters.”

On how he became a conspiracy buff:
It comes from my days when I was in wrestling, when we started flying in airplanes and I started doing a lot of reading. I got into reading “The Murder of John Kennedy” and I couldn’t get enough of it. That triggered it. Number one, there’s the perspective that it could be true. Number two, the people [these books] talk about were actually living people, and in some cases still are.

On his trust, or lack thereof, of the U.S. government:
Let me say this: I’m paranoid of the government. They’ve lost my trust. They’ve lied to me so many times that I don’t know what to believe from them anymore.

The latest lie came in 2004 when I was teaching at Harvard. [Former Secretary of Defense Robert] McNamara came through on a speaking engagement and admitted that the Gulf of Tonkin incident [in which U.S. battleships were reported to have been engaged by North Vietnamese torpedo boats, an incident which ultimately spurred the invasion of Vietnam] never happened. Well, that was 58,000 of my generation killed in Vietnam and probably over a million Vietnamese killed. All over something that didn’t happen? Then you start to think, “If that didn’t happen, what else did or didn’t happen?” So you can understand where the paranoia comes from.

On the government justifying its actions under the guise of “national security”:
I would rather be uncomfortable with the truth than to be lied to in comfort. That’s just my nature. But it seems today that everything’s buried under this cloak of national security, and I think it’s time to have that cloak raised up.

Because let’s remember something: technically, the government works for us. The last time I checked, I still pay their bills, don’t I? In the course of doing this show, every time the government was involved in anything, we got stonewalled. If what they say is true, why would they feel the need to stonewall?

On a potential 9/11 conspiracy, part I:
There are 250 cameras watching 24/7 at the Pentagon. How come we can’t see film of the plane hitting the Pentagon, if only to dispel the rumors? If what they told us is true, wouldn’t they show it to us just to prove they were right? That would shut people like me up, wouldn’t it? But they don’t do that.

On a potential 9/11 conspiracy, part II:

We contacted Rudy Giuliani, the hero of 9/11, 14 times. We couldn’t get a meeting with him. I only had one question: I wanted to know who actually ran the [World Trade Center] site, whether he was in charge or someone else.

I got my answer in a court case from New York. In the case, it came out under questioning by a judge, who asked how much investigation the city of New York did on 9/11. The answer was zero. So if they didn’t investigate 9/11 at all, how could Rudy Giuliani be this hero they built him up to be? He didn’t do anything, other than excavate the site and remove all the evidence. I find that interesting.

On a potential 9/11 conspiracy, part III:
We talk to someone who worked [at the World Trade Center site] 256 straight days and who tells us unequivocally that he was there the night they found the black boxes [from the airplanes that were crashed into the Twin Towers]. Well, our government has told us that the black boxes were never found.

But then we talk to experts who say that’s next to impossible – that they always find the black boxes, even the ones 12,000 feet beneath the ocean. [9/11 investigators] went through the debris with such a fine-toothed comb that they were finding bone fragments the size of nail clippings and DNA-matching them to victims. But they couldn’t find these big fluorescent black boxes, whether [the boxes] worked or not? Come on. Do you believe that?

On his strangest experience filming “Conspiracy Theory”:
I went eye-to-eye with someone who truly believes there are Manchurian candidates, people programmed by the government to do an assassination. He was very bizarre—I met him in the bowels of a parking lot. I tell you one thing: Whether you believe this guy or not, you’re not going to turn the channel. In television, that’s a victory.

On conspiracies that date back beyond the last decade:
I believe I have a sure-fire method to prove there was a conspiracy with [President John F.] Kennedy’s death. I won’t say what it is. I’m just waiting for the go-ahead to do it. If I’m successful, it will prove unequivocally that there was a conspiracy.

On how a conspiracy theorist kicks back after a full year of research and investigation:
I’ll be hiding in the far reaches of the Baja where nobody can find me. When the show breaks, I’ll wish it well. If they want me to come back for more, I’ll certainly do it. If not, I’ll just wait for the next large wave to come in.