This time, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura may have gone too far--at least so say some of his fellow Reform Party members, who expressed outrage over statements the governor made to Playboy magazine about organized religion, the Navy Tailhook scandal and other topics.
Reform Party Chairman Russell Verney, who has clashed with Ventura on other issues, said he was "disgusted and outraged." Verney and Reform Party spokeswoman Donna Donovan said they had received a flood of calls and e-mails expressing displeasure with Ventura's statements, although Minnesota Reform Party Chairman Rick McCluhan said judgment should be reserved until the statements could be read in context of the full article, out Monday.
The hullabaloo over Ventura's comments rose even as Donald Trump, whom Ventura is promoting to become the party's presidential nominee, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Ventura is "the embodiment of the political qualities America needs and voters reward."
Sensing a self-inflicted hammerlock, Ventura wrote to religious leaders yesterday to say that his views on organized religion, which he had told Playboy was "a sham and crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers," were "dramatically shaped by my military experience in the Vietnam era and make me skeptical." He cited instances of "so-called religious leaders zealously marketing their beliefs" by inducing impoverished people to hand over "their last dollar for a baptism."
Explaining his comments to reporters, the governor cited two movies. Ventura said he was emulating Mel Brooks, playing a French king in "History of the World--Part I," when he said, "It's good to be the king." Ventura said he meant it as a laugh line, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported, but state Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe (D) was not amused.
In explaining his view of Tailhook, Ventura cited Jack Nicholson's performance in "A Few Good Men" as a Marine who makes a passionate speech about how nations develop efficient killers and then gasp when they violate military rules. He added that officers who groped and harassed women at the Tailhook convention "deserved to be court-martialed for behavior like that."
Beatty Delivers a No-Go Show
It was, as even a Hollywood political fund-raiser put it, "a really weird night." Flanked by rows of braying TV reporters and shouting paparazzi, Warren Beatty strolled into the Beverly Hilton on Wednesday night and did not announce he is running for president.
The 62-year-old actor and director did not exactly rule out a run for the Democratic nomination, either.
But Beatty said he would continue to speak out on issues that he says matter most--how millions of Americans are being left behind during this gilded age of booming stocks and how the political system is as rotten as a bad tooth.
"What we're witnessing is a slow-motion coup d'etat of Big Money's interests over the public's interests," Beatty said in a speech at the event, where he accepted the Eleanor Roosevelt Award given to him by the left-leaning Americans for Democratic Action.
At the fund-raiser, where the "golden tables" up front were selling for $10,000 a pop, Beatty said he is for public financing of campaigns and asked the Hollywood-heavy crowd, "Is there no protest anymore?" But Courtney Love, Jack Nicholson and Dustin Hoffman did not exactly rush to the barricades.
Staff writer William Booth in Los Angeles contributed to this report.