Ventura makes good

David La

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — Gov. Jesse Ventura arrived in town with one agenda: to ensure that he would come away with a fish at his first-ever opener, something his predecessor had done only once in his eight-year tenure.
Ventura pulled five fish out of Pokegama Lake, and though he had not been fishing for some 15 years prior, the governor displayed all the savvy of an old pro in relaying the story about the one that got away.
“I felt a very substantial jerk,” Ventura said. “I battled him pretty good for quite a while. The pole was bending like crazy, and then all of a sudden — snap — you got nothing but nylon (line) and everything’s gone.”
Ventura hit the waters of Pokegama Lake some three hours early Saturday morning in a successful attempt to land a fish of better stature than former Gov. Arne Carlson’s small sauger last year. Ventura, aided by guide Jeff Sundin, insisted that it was just his day.
“Fishing is luck,” Ventura said. “Governor Carlson maybe didn’t have luck.”
Ventura’s fishing expedition was part of the whirlwind three-day stint in Grand Rapids. The governor spoke to students at Grand Rapids High School on Friday afternoon, and then it was on to the marketplace outside Central School for his lone appearance in front of the general population.
Ventura was in usual unorthodox form, arriving in a 1967 Pontiac GTO street rod and taking the stage clad in blue jeans and a hat. While overall he came across yet again as the ambassador to the common folk, all those in attendance did not swallow his brief address hook, line and sinker.
The occasional “insert city name here” portions of his address praising Grand Rapids were met with contempt-tinged mutterings from members of the gathering. But even those skeptics were brought to laughter and reassurance when Ventura joked about his contingency plan if he were to catch no fish.
“If by chance I don’t, they gave me this gorgeous stuffed walleye over at the high school, and I think if I dunk it in the water and hold it up from a long enough distance …” Ventura paused amidst the laughter, “because it isn’t that hard to fool the press anyway.”
While Ventura’s good-natured elbow to the media did no real damage, his recently released autobiography, aptly titled “I Ain’t Got Time To Bleed” may open wounds that even the ex-Navy SEAL will be forced to attend to.
The book, which includes candid accounts of Ventura’s involvement with prostitution, marijuana and steroids, has already been the cause for much debate about whether a person in Ventura’s place should be repentant versus being forthright.
But the governor makes no apologies and invites those who question his stature as a role model to look at his own two children as an example of his parenting abilities.
During his address to the citizens of Grand Rapids on Friday, Ventura extolled the virtues of the public school systems, citing them as the reason for choosing 36-year teaching veteran Mae Schunk as his running mate.
“I think that it’s clear, the importance that public education is to myself and my family,” Ventura said.
Now that the governor has put out a book that tells of the ungoverned portions of his life, he may find himself catching more than his limit of criticism from that newly educated public.
Unlike that would-be fish, Gov. Ventura is not likely to get off this hook anytime soon.