Will The Donald Trump Pat? Place Your Bets!

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Donald Trump wants you to know he ain’t no gadfly. "The only thing that could interest me is if I could win," Trump told the Associated Press after announcing Thursday that he would form an exploratory committee for a 2000 Reform party presidential run. "I'm not talking about the nomination, I'm talking about the whole megillah." OK, that’s simply not going to happen –- multi-divorced, womanizing real estate developers who run casinos and inspire tabloid headlines like BEST SEX I EVER HAD aren’t exactly going to sweep the soccer moms off their feet. (A Newsweek poll last week confirms this, putting his support for a White House bid at 2 percent.) But as Trump himself said when reminded of the Newsweek numbers, "If I had 2 percent, how come they put me on their cover?" For the same reason Jesse Ventura wants him to take care of the Reform party banner while he racks up another few terms of (highly entertaining) semi-respectability in Minnesota: He could make a hell of a gadfly.

The Donald’s profile reads a lot like the Body’s — a spotlight grabber who’s fiscally conservative and socially liberal, pro-choice and a free-trader, who has a conservative’s outlook with none of the pious moral baggage (repeat none) of the religious right. He shares Ventura’s no-bull political style — "Straight shooters are going to rule tomorrow," he told TIME’s Margaret Carlson last month –- and he’s goofy like Jesse but not strange like Ross. Certainly the Bush camp is rooting for Trump 2000 — while a Pat Buchanan candidacy raids GOPers, Trump’s (despite the fact that he’s a registered Republican) promises to steal at least equally from the Democrats. But Jesse has his own reasons, mainly to keep the party from swinging into teeth-gnashing irrelevance under a moralistic, isolationist, fascist-tinged Buchanan run. Ventura and Trump, who first met at Wrestlemania IV in Atlantic City and hit it off, were getting together Thursday night to talk about ways to outmaneuver the Perot-Buchanan alliance (which, Carlson reports, is showing signs of wear over Pat's new book) and grab the Reform spotlight. Expect Ventura, who’s the only Reformista to actually wina major office, to remind Trump to take this thing one megilla at a time.