Jesse Ventura is back. The former pro wrestler, who served as Minnesota governor from 1999 to 2003, is the host of "Conspiracy Theory," an investigative series that premieres Wednesday on truTV.
On "Conspiracy Theory," you investigate secret societies and supposed government coverups. Such theories are everywhere, but really, what big conspiracy has ever been proven?
How can you prove it? That's the point. The better part would be to ask, "How many of the government's points have ever been proven?" I find what's most interesting about doing this show is how the government will not participate or allow you in or answer any questions. We're not allowed to question our government.
But you're allowed to have this program, which is more than could be said about many countries.
We're not on the air yet, are we? I never believe anything in the world of entertainment until it actually happens and the check clears the bank. I've had a gentleman's bet with my crew that these shows would never air.
Originally, the show was going to show both sides of the conspiracy. But the show then evolved while we were doing it, because it's very difficult to show both sides when one side won't cooperate at all.
Then how can you be sure the side that does cooperate isn't just a bunch of crackpots?
I'm not sure. But how can I be sure the government's not?
One of the alleged coverups you investigate involves 9/11. Do you believe the terrorist attacks were an inside job?
I believe that the government has not been truthful with us about it. Yes, absolutely. That there's massive holes in the story they've told. That none of these questions have ever been adequately addressed.
Saying you have doubts is different than saying you think it was an inside job.
You can't prove anything. All evidence has been destroyed, pretty much.
Why would the government want to do such things?
Well, what changed after 9/11? We're in two wars, passage of Patriot Act and all that. Our entire society changed that day. We've become paranoid. We think there's a terrorist behind every tree. I live in Mexico half the year. And when I'm down there, for six months, I never hear the word "terrorism." When I'm up here, I can't go a day without hearing it.
On another episode, you investigate the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), an Alaska-based facility that bombards the ionosphere with high-frequency signals and that conspiracy theorists say is used for nefarious purposes, like weather control. You go to HAARP and can't get in, yet the facility offers open houses to the public. How secretive could they be?
Every other year, they invite people in for coffee and doughnuts. If that's all it is, an unclassified research project, then why wouldn't I be allowed in? It gets its funding from DARPA [the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency], the most secret part of the Pentagon. That doesn't raise concern with you?
It doesn't seem like in that episode you really got to the bottom of anything.
How can you get to the bottom, with a one-hour TV show and the limited resources I have? Hey, I'm doing a lot better than you guys are! How's that for you?
You don't think journalists investigate anything?
Not much. They investigate the death of Anna Nicole Smith, which I won't be covering.
This is not your first venture into TV hosting since leaving the governorship. What happened to "Jesse Ventura's America," which ran briefly on MSNBC in 2003?
It was awful. I was basically silenced. When I came out of office, I was the hottest commodity out there. There was a bidding war between CNN, Fox and MSNBC to get my services. MSNBC ultimately won. I was being groomed for a five day-a-week TV show by them. Then, all of a sudden, weird phone calls started happening: "Is it true Jesse doesn't support the war in Iraq?"
My contract said I couldn't do any other cable TV or any news shows, and they honored and paid it for the duration of it. So in essence I had my silence purchased. Why do you think you didn't hear from me for three years? I was under contract. They wouldn't even use me as a consultant!
When you live in Mexico, your houses all have names. I almost named my house Casa MSNBC because they bought it. I was paid like a professional athlete, and I got very wealthy. For doing nothing.
Speaking of Mexico, what's a patriotic guy like you doing living there?
The weather's nicer. You ever live in Minnesota in the winter? Come on up and do it for 30 years in a row and see how you enjoy it.
When you were governor, you disliked journalists, whom you dubbed "media jackals." But being a TV host means a lot more media jackals in your life.
I don't mind it. I'm not accountable now for my state, only for myself. I can live with that a whole lot better. I don't have to muzzle myself when I'm a civilian. When you're a governor, you kind of have to do it, because you represent the whole state. You have to leave your personal opinions to yourself a lot. I learned that.