The Day Minnesota Shuddered

Jesse Ventura.

I know. Even mentioning the name “Jesse Ventura” still makes some folks in Minnesota shudder.

Actual Minnesotan remembering Governor Jessie Ventura’s “Reign of Awesomeness”

He was elected Governor of Minnesota in an upset 1999 election. Jesse was, of course, a former professional wrestler (“The Body”), professional wrestling commentator (“The Mouth”), and went on to co-star in the 1987 movie classic Predator (“The Blain”). His big line in that movie was, “I ain’t got time to bleed.”

Not a gun. Actually a potato ricer.

I’m sorry, but that is a very Minnesotan way to think.

Your hubcaps could have just spun off from hitting a pothole on highway 100, the hood flies up so you can’t see, and your exhaust system is shooting flames. You’re not pulling over – you’ve got to get to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre because you don’t want to end up sitting on a log bench way in the back all night.

You ain’t got time to bleed.

He was our first movie actor to be elected, and he became Governor before Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governor of California (2003-2011). Of course, Ronald Reagan already broken the technicolor barrier as both California Governor and as President of the whole shooting match.

But Jessie was our celebrity Governor, and we hated it!

Actual Minnesota shedding actual Minnesotan tears after Jesse Ventura was elected as Governor.

I think that has to do with our overdeveloped sense of shame. Minnesotans don’t like to be noticed, and if we secretly do want attention, it’s through humble-bragging.

“No big whoop, but I just invented the first pop-up toaster. Might be kind of neat.” (Charles Strite, Stillwater, MN 1912)

“Oh that? That’s just autopilot that I invented. You know, so them pilots can take a smoke break.” (Honeywell, 1942)

“Just cleared the driveway for my neighbor with this new snowblower thingie. Nothing to it really. It’s really just a lawnmower for snow.” (Toro, 1951)

So when this audacious 6’4″ celebrity suddenly is standing behind a podium that says “Minnesota Governor”, who’s going to stop him? We’re waaaaay too passive-aggressive to try to physically remove a big guy like that. We thought we’d just let him have his say, and then he’d wander off to co-star in another movie like Predator 3 (which actually was called Predators because apparently those aliens kept reproducing. It makes you wonder though, with those cloaking devices, how can the predators see each other to make babies for sequels? Plus they’re kind of ugly when they do take off their cloaks. Must be a lot of schnapps involved there.)

Does a cloaking device count as a layer of clothing? #askingforaMNfriend

But Jesse served his full term and didn’t break anything too bad. I’m pretty sure when the next governor, Tim Pawlenty, moved into the Governor’s Mansion on Summit Avenue, he expected to find the mansion in less-than-pristine condition.

What Tim Pawlenty expected to find when he moved into the Minnesota Governor’s Mansion.

But the Venturas got their full deposit back apparently, so that was good.

Not to get too political – but I personally was happy that Jesse got elected. I told people, like my mom (God rest her soul), that Norm Coleman and Skip Humphrey didn’t need extra votes. It was time to send a message to St. Paul! And to those wimpy 49 other states, too!

My mom was so pee-o’d the day after the election, because I’d talked her into voting for this third-party pro wrestler. And he won!

“I didn’t think he would win, Chaunce!” she said, practically sobbing into the phone. “Don’t tell anyone I voted for him.”

“Okay, mom,” I agreed. “Your secret is safe with me.”

(Please don’t tell anyone else that I told you about how my mom voted for Jesse Ventura. I’m pretty sure she’d still get mad about it.)

My mom, Helen Stanton, in the March of Voter Shame

Here’s the thing: before the election, none of the media was taking Jesse Ventura seriously. I remember being so mad at the television when I watched an interview on public television’s Almanac broadcast where he was marginalized. It wasn’t very polite how they treated him, and if we know anything as Minnesotans it’s to be polite to people even if you hate them.

I think Jesus said that in the Bible.

So when Jesse Ventura won, I didn’t care if he was going to blow the state budget on elastic onesies and headbands. It was just good to wipe that smug expression off of Eric Eskola’s face for once.


Looking for Minnesota Humor?

Check out Minnesota Up the Back Door. It’s not too bad. And it’s available exclusively on Kindle.

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