Graduate’s book heralds Jesse’s surprise,

Brian Close

Dr. Seuss never tackled a subject like Jesse.
But a University alumnus did with a spoof of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” telling the story of Gov. Jesse Ventura’s victory.
In “How the Pundits Stole Democracy,” Jeff Frederick rhymes his way from the early days of the campaign through the election, focusing on the pundits’ mistaken predictions, as in this excerpt:
“The pundits all stared, unsure what to say. They hadn’t predicted it going this way! For by quarter to 12 the returns were a mess. Whatever had happened? Can you Ven-tur-a guess?”
The 1991 theater graduate wrote the story for his cable access show called “Don’t Worry About the Government.” The show, which ran from 1996 to 1998, featured political spoofs, monologues and stories.
“The first time I read it (on the show), I was shocked,” he said. “Everyone wanted it e-mailed to them.”
Kelly Johnson, a friend of Frederick, was in the audience at the initial reading.
“When it came to the ‘Welcome Jesse’ song, he sang that,” Johnson said. “It was hilarious.” In the book, voters sing in joy at Ventura’s win.
Surprised at the response, Frederick mentioned the story to Nancy Roehlke, an illustrator who was enthusiastic about drawing pictures for the book.
“I think the whole story of Jesse being elected is amazing and fun,” Roehlke said. “I just love the poem. It makes me laugh and makes me giggle.”
With donations from friends, they printed 2,500 copies and began distributing them several weeks ago to local bookstores, including the Hungry Mind Bookstore, Borders Book Shop and Micawber’s Books.
The story depicts voter frustration with cookie-cutter candidates — something Frederick himself experienced.
An avid campaign volunteer, Frederick said he usually worked for Democratic candidates.
But when Hubert H. “Skip” Humphrey III won the primary this year, Frederick said he was “not thrilled.” He volunteered for a Humphrey phone bank, but was discouraged by their attitudes toward the election.
Frederick said Humphrey and Republican gubernatorial candidate Norm Coleman’s campaigns focused on target voters who were predicted to vote, and the campaign scripts disappointed him.
“It sounded like we were selling telephone service,” he said. “We were calling people up and bothering them with this drivel.”
Meanwhile, he said, Ventura was mobilizing people that the other two parties had ignored. Frederick was excited and decided to switch campaigns to work for Ventura’s less-structured phone bank.
“They said, ‘We are telling people to just pick up the phone book and call, I guess,'” Frederick said.
He said he admired the grass-roots support for Ventura and Ventura’s refusal to accept money from political action groups.
When Ventura won, Frederick said, the reaction from the television commentators reminded him of the reaction of Dr. Seuss’ Grinch — when the villagers begin singing and enjoying Christmas despite having no presents.
And so he wrote:
“It came without phone banks, it came despite polls! It came without PAC money, lit drops, or big party rolls!”