Stateline Story

Minnesota's Colorful New Governor Stars on Web

  • February 09, 1999
  • By Blair S. Walker

With a click of the mouse, the silhouette of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's shaved head bursts into view like a full moon. Near the top of the computer screen, beside a snapshot of the former pro wrestler's piercing eyes, is an in-your-face boast: "Our Governor Could Beat Up Your Governor."

Welcome to jessethebody.com, the brainchild of Tony Scudiero, 18, and Victor Eifealdt, 17, students at the Minnesota Academy of Mathematics and Science, in Winona, Minn. School dean Mark Ordal served as "technical advisor and co-conspirator."

A home-page disclaimer for jessethebody.com advises, "This is not Jesse Ventura's Official Site, This is Way Cooler."

"Our site is not really a pro-Jesse site," says Ordal, who didn't vote for Ventura, a Reform Party member. "His detractors might argue that, by default it is, because we don't have anything negative."

Like many younger Minnesotans, Scudiero and Eifealdt find Ventura a compelling figure, Ordal says. "We're simply trying to have fun, presenting factual information on Minnesota's new governor."

The site includes information on Ventura's physical dimensions (6-foot-4, 260 pounds) and real name (James Janos) in a section entitled Vital Statistics. And of course jessethebody.com disseminates the wit and wisdom of the man who is arguable the country's most laid-back state chief executive.

Point and click on a section called Quotes and you'll learn that a few days before being elected governor of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, former Navy Seal Ventura annihilated a persistent heckler with the admonition, "I don't need your vote, smarta--."

Because jessethebody.com was last updated in December, it doesn't disclose that Ventura has since gained permission to carry a concealed weapon. Or that his pick to head the department of natural resources, Alan Horner, resigned following disclosures that Horner violated fish and gaming rules.

Not that such information in jessethebody.com would detract from Ventura's growing legend -- it would probably burnish it.

The ability to entertain is "a very underestimated quality in politics," says St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Nick Coleman. "Because frankly, the politics in Minnesota have been stultifying over the last decade or so."

Ventura's bombast and hijinks tend to obscure the fact that he's worked diligently at being a good governor and has made "sterling" political appointments for the most part, Coleman says

Maybe that will be reflected when the jessethebody.com braintrust unleashes their next project -- "The Virtual Ventura." Stay tuned.