After Baring All, Jesse Ventura Is Still Smiling

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One more way Jesse Ventura is changing America: Suddenly, everybody’s reading Playboy for the articles. On the Monday after the Minnesota governor held forth on everything from organized religion ("a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers") to Buddhism (he’d like to be reincarnated as a 38DD bra), the braying from less fun-loving quarters has reached fever pitch. A weekend poll conducted by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis finds that Ventura's popularity has plunged 19 points, from a record 73 percent approval rating in July to 54 percent on Monday. (Sixty-eight percent of Minnesotans thought their governor might "use better judgment about when to keep his opinions to himself.") Pat Robertson said Ventura was "off his rocker"; Trent Lott and Gary Bauer both preferred "bigoted." But it was outgoing Reform party chairman Russ Verney who dealt Ventura the cruelest verbal blow: "You have brought shame to yourself and disgrace to the members of the Reform party."

Sounds like one of those pre-fight wrestling come-ons. Upon hearing what Verney, a Perotista who’s backing Buchanan for the Reform nod, had said, Ventura responded that the national party had done "virtually nothing" to help him take Minnesota last November, and he sure wasn’t going to start kowtowing to it now. The national party, after all, is in such a shambles that even Pat Buchanan seems a little wary of taking the plunge. Another prospective candidate, former Connecticut governor and senator Lowell Weicker, looks to have taken himself out of consideration — or so he told a former Reform splinter group that’s weighing up whether to rejoin the fold. (He also used the word "we" when talking about it to NBC, though.) No word on Trump. Or Beatty. Or Perot himself. On Ventura, Weicker said the comments were "over the top" but said "What we judge a man on is his performance. He's been a good governor." And Ventura himself? "I speak my mind," he said. "That's who I am." But he did have some advice for Arnold Schwarzenegger, a friend and fellow "Predator" costar who’s thinking of a run at Reagan’s old job in the California statehouse. "My advice to Arnold, as a friend, is `Continue with your movie career, Arnold, don't get involved in it,'" Ventura told Tim Russert on Sunday. "It won't be worth it to you." It ain’t easy bein’ Jesse.