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By Tom Pantera, Published January 05 2003

Body of evidence: Looking back at four years of Gov. Jesse in Minnesota

After four years in office, it's not certain what Minnesota's first Reform Party governor reformed.

Probably most people's ideas about third-party candidates.

Jesse Ventura's ability to keep his tongue in check was rivaled only by his ability to manage the state's finances. He worked with legislators like Trent Lott worked with the NAACP. His skill at media manipulation was rivaled only by Michael Jackson's skill as a parent.

With Ventura leaving office at noon Monday after only one term, some might say, "Jesse, we hardly knew ye …" Others might say, "Jesse, we knew ye all too well …"

From his aborted plan to rappel to the Capitol for his swearing-in to his desire to be reincarnated as lingerie (see accompanying quotes below), Jesse said and did things no governor anywhere has ever said or done.

Herewith, a selection of some of Jesse's weirder moments:

-December 1998: Pay my wife, please. Gov.-elect Ventura breaks with tradition and says his wife, Terry, should be paid. She doesn't get the money. In fact, she eventually decides to nearly stop doing any first lady-type stuff.

-January 1999: Excitable governor. At his inaugural, Ventura dons a feather boa and sings a duet with rocker Warren Zevon. As a singer, Ventura proves to be a good governor.

-May 1999: Running off at the keyboard. Ventura releases his autobiography, in which he brags about losing his virginity as part of a teenage bet; admits using marijuana and steroids; and recounts a visit to a Nevada brothel during his days in the Navy, when a prostitute offered her services plus $10 for a belt he was wearing made of machine-gun shell casings. "I'm probably one of the only people in the world who's gone into a Nevada ranch and been paid," he writes. "I used that $10 to go to another one."

-August 1999: Dignity gets body-slammed. Ventura returns to the pro wrestling ring in a foul-mouthed and much-criticized appearance as "guest referee" at a Minneapolis World Wrestling Federation event.

-May 2000: The sound of money. Ventura confirms that he has sold the rights to his life story to a producer who planned to turn it into a musical, with David Hasselhoff considered for the title role. The show never materializes.

-June 2000: Soap studs. Ventura makes a cameo in "The Young and the Restless," playing himself in several scenes with villain Eric Braeden. He makes a second appearance in September 2001.

-November 2000: Uncommentator. NBC taps Ventura as color commentator for the short-lived XFL football league started by Ventura's old WWF boss, Vince McMahon. The network pulls the plug after one season when the ratings flat line.

-February 2001: Sticks and stones… Ventura issues to Capitol reporters press passes bearing a full-body picture of the governor, dressed all in black and pointing Uncle Sam-style at the camera and designating the wearer an "Official Jackal." Many members of the media refused to wear the badges. Eventually, Ventura bitterly rescinds his order that they be worn to get into his events.

-February 2002: Who's sorry now? Ventura records his lowest mark in a Minneapolis Star-Tribune poll with 49 percent approving of his job and only 29 percent saying he deserves re-election. His highest approval rating was 73 percent in July 1999.

-May 2002: The irrelevant in the room. The legislative session ends on a low note for Ventura, whose plan for fixing a deficit was ignored. Budget bills were passed over his vetoes. He went fishing while legislators balanced the budget and golfing as they trudged through the last day of session.

-June 2002: Into the sonset. Ventura lashes out at the media over reports that his 22-year-old son, Tyrel, used the governor's mansion as a party pad. A day after the story broke, Ventura announced he wouldn't seek re-election. He said his heart was no longer in the job, but also criticized the media for invading his family's privacy.

Forum reporter Don Davis and the Associated Press contributed material to this story. Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Pantera at (701) 241-5541

Ventura quotes

Jesse Ventura was known during his wrestling career as "The Body." He wanted to be known during his gubernatorial term as "The Mind."

But his talent for coming up with unusual statements made him, more than anything, "The Mouth."

A sampling:

"It's good to be king."

- Oct. 1999, Playboy magazine

"If I could be reincarnated as a fabric, I would like to come back as a 38-DD bra."

- Oct. 1999, Playboy magazine

"Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers."

- Oct. 1999, Playboy magazine

"Women's wrestling can thank silicone. Breast implants are what make it popular. Before that, it was right up there with the midgets."

- Oct. 1999, Playboy magazine

"To me, it justifies conceal and carry more."

- Oct. 1999, Playboy magazine (on the Columbine shootings)

"Have you been to St. Paul? Whoever designed the streets must have been drunk. I think it was those Irish guys. You know what they like to do."

- Feb. 1999, Late Show with David Letterman

"Until you've hunted man, you haven't hunted yet."

- April 2001, lashing out at a columnist critical of his natural resources policies

"Why can't a wrestler be governor? That's what this country was founded upon."

- Nov. 1998, on American history

"I asked (the Dalai Lama) the most important question that I think you could ask -- if he had ever seen 'Caddyshack.'"

- May 2001 (The Buddhist spiritual leader hadn't)

"Anyway, I've done way more stupid things on alcohol than I have on pot."

- Pre-election discussion on marijuana decriminalization

"I have ways of persuading other than being diplomatic."

- Before his first trade mission to Hollywood