In another reminder that Gov. Jesse Ventura is no ordinary politician, the former wrestler told Playboy magazine that organized religion is for "weak-minded people" and that the Navy's Tailhook sexual harassment scandal was "much ado about nothing."
He also said he believed President John F. Kennedy was killed by the "military-industrial complex" because he opposed intervention in Vietnam.
Ventura, who has gained national influence in the Reform Party since he upset two veteran politicians in Minnesota's gubernatorial race last year, said in an interview for the magazine's November issue that legalizing prostitution should be considered but is an unpopular idea because of religion.
"Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers," the governor said. "It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people's business."
Tonight, Ventura spokesman John Wodele said he wanted to clarify those remarks: "Understand that he was talking about extremists of the religious right who are often intolerant, and the governor cannot stand intolerance."
The governor, a former Navy SEAL who spent time in Southeast Asia in the early 1970s, said he could not condone what happened during the Tailhook Association's conference in 1991, when female Navy officers were groped and fondled by aviators at a Las Vegas hotel. But he said he understood it.
"These are people who live on the razor's edge and defy death and do things where people die," he said. "They're not going to consider grabbing a woman's breast or buttock a major situation. That's much ado about nothing."
Ventura talked about the best part of his job: "It's good to be king," he said. "The best thing is that there's no one in this state who can tell me what to do."