Like Steven Seagal and Donald Trump before him, Jesse Ventura has found a new career thanks to Vladimir Putin, a man who definitely has a VHS copy of Predator in his den. Putin—who presumably recently started getting broadcasts of early-’90s HBO—has added the former professional wrestler turned governor of Minnesota turned conspiracy theory-slinging TV host to his strongman entourage by giving Ventura a new show on RT America, the U.S. arm of the Russian government-funded RT network. Ventura says that Putin has offered him his personal assurances that he won’t face any censorship, which will ostensibly allow Ventura to say whatever he wants on his new series, The World According To Jesse—a liberatingly open exchange of big ideas that the show’s promo captures with a shot of Ventura sewing a back patch of his own face onto a leather vest, then trucking that bad mother down the highway astride a motorbike.
“It’s called the feeling of freedom. Everyone in the world should experience freedom,” Ventura says of the main thrust of the show produced by the state-owned propaganda arm of a country where journalists, activists, and other critics are often imprisoned or assassinated. Vrrroooooom says the big shiny motorcycle.
According to accompanying statements, The World According To Jesse will feature Ventura taking on “the current news agenda and deeper issues such as government hypocrisy and corporate deception” by utilizing his “uncensored, bold and bare-knuckled approach” to punditry, with Ventura further promising he would be “holding our government accountable” and “exercising my First Amendment rights with no filters.”
It’s an unapologetically confrontational attitude that’s familiar to anyone who’s seen or heard Ventura pugnaciously taking on the political system, organized religion, the official accounts of 9/11, or any of the other topics he previously covered as the host of the short-lived TruTV’s Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura, MSNBC’s Jessie Ventura’s America, or Ora TV’s Off The Grid (which RT America briefly carried), or as a regular guest on Alex Jones’ InfoWars. You might also remember hearing him shouting while wearing a lot of pastels as his WWE persona Jesse “The Body” Ventura, or in various Arnold Schwarzenegger movies—all of these arenas being the unexpected crucibles of our modern politics.
That Ventura—a former Navy SEAL, statesman, and staple of a particularly red-blooded strain of American action—would choose to work for Russia is a point of contention that Ventura himself recognizes. But as he tells The Associated Press, he was more or less “forced to do it” after not being able to find work in the U.S.
“No one will touch me,” Ventura told the AP, saying the Screen Actors Guild had rescinded his health insurance for not working regularly enough. Ventura blames this fallow period on the fallout over his lawsuit against American Sniper subject Chris Kyle, whom Ventura said had defamed him with an anecdote about the two getting into a bar fight over some alleged anti-war comments Ventura had made. Ventura kept up his lawsuit even after Kyle died, with a jury awarding him $1.8 million in 2014—an award that was later thrown out on appeal. The optics of Ventura continuing to sue Kyle’s widow, while also publicly denouncing him, unfortunately garnered him a lot of enmity from the audience who would most enjoy watching him grouse about things, or maybe wield a Minigun.
But he’s found a new and welcoming benefactor in Russia, who will give Ventura “total artistic control” to say whatever he wants—specifically about America, and most importantly, about its media.
“I am working for the enemy of mainstream media now,” Ventura said, thus throwing himself fully into our bizarre fucking modern quagmire, where atheist Libertarian former pro-wrestlers join staunch conservatives in praising Vladimir Putin and working with Russian propagandists while denouncing American journalists—a loud, confusing tangle of supposed ideological allegiances masking obvious money-driven agendas that just makes you want to go crack a beer and watch Predator again. Now that made sense.