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Capitol Chatter: Ventura plans Web-based ‘Off the Grid’ show

Then-Gov. Jesse Ventura talks during an interview before he left office in 2002. Now, he plans an Internet show. Don Davis | Forum News Service

ST. PAUL — Jesse Ventura is like a boomerang: He keeps coming back.

The independent former Minnesota governor’s next venture is on in a show to be called “Off the Grid.”

Ora describes the show: “Fiercely critical of both Democrats and Republicans, Gov. Jesse Ventura’s views are thought-provoking and unpredictable. Don’t miss Ventura at his most vigilant, questioning government and those in power, on the full range of today’s critical issues.”

In his own style, Ventura uses his best dramatic voice to give “Off the Grid” his own promotion: “I believe in my country. I love my country. But in loving my country I also believe as a citizen you must be vigilant. You must hold the government’s feet to the fire. And that is what I do best. Question my government. Question why they do things. Question people in the government and keep them honest. The truth shall set you free.”

Ventura has tried several things since leaving office, including as a cable channel investigative show.

Ora is trying to make a name for itself with a couple of Larry King shows, another about dweeb culture and one called “The Real Girl’s Kitchen.”

“Off the Grid” is to be presented daily and debuts about Jan. 20.

Ventura told Variety that his show will be produced at “undisclosed locations” outside the United States to avoid the threat of government censorship. “This will be like Radio Free Europe, broadcasting propaganda over the Iron Curtain.”

Ventura, 62, regularly pops up in the news, often teasing Americans that he will run for president. The former professional wrestler, who never lost the wrestler bravado, lives about half the year in a Twin Cities suburb and the other half in Mexico.

Peterson rumors continue

Another week, another rumor that U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., is retiring.

The Hill newspaper reports that Reps. Buck McKeon of California and Peterson “could be the next veteran legislators to retire from office, strategists say.”

Peterson regularly has said he will decide whether to seek another term early in 2014. He typically announces in February.

The Hill tells Capitol Hill what Minnesotans already know: The 69-year-old Democratic accountant holds a seat in a Republican-leaning area, leaving the GOP hopeful to pick it up if he steps down.

National Democrats insist that Peterson is likely to run again, but the Hill dredges up the line that Peterson’s campaign contributions are way down, something Republicans use as proof that he is not running again. Peterson usually is among those in Congress raising relatively small amounts since he needs little in his district, which usually is solidly behind him.

Republicans and groups on their side are hitting Peterson hard. The latest is a video from the American Action Network showing a storybook’s pages turning and designed in a holiday theme against new health care laws.

“Tiny Tim couldn’t get that operation because of the waiting list,” one segment says. “No. No.”

It continues: “Please say this can be changed.”

Another voice, a deep-throated one, replies: “It can, repeal Collin Peterson.”

Senators lobby EPA

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., led 16 senators who asked Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to dump plans to change a rule that could hurt biofuels such as ethanol.

The EPA’s proposed rule lowers how much biofuels would be required to be produced.

Senators in the meeting included Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and senators from North Dakota, Iowa and South Dakota, as well as others. Senators came from both parties.

“The Renewable Fuels Standard has driven growth and innovation in the renewable fuels industry,” Klobuchar said. “At a time when the oil industry continues to receive billions in unnecessary subsidies, it simply does not make sense to create so much uncertainty in a sector that has helped reduce our dependence on foreign oil and is vital to our rural economy.”

Franken tradition

Minnesota’s Jewish U.S. senator continues his Christmas tradition this year.

For one thing, Democrat Al Franken put in another year sponsoring a Senate secret Santa gift exchange.

This year, his campaign added a poem written in a familiar manner that arrived via email:

“‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the state

Attention was focused on one single date

Our fundraising goal that we’ve set with such care?

By 12/31, all the cash must be there! ...

There’s a reason we’re focusing hard on this goal

(And it’s not just to fill Karl Rove’s stocking with coal)

The wondering eyes of the pundits and press

Will be looking to see if we’ve met with success.

Now the deadline’s approaching, we’re nearing the whistle

The time’s gonna fly like the down of a thistle

So let me exclaim, ‘ere we close out the year

‘Merry Christmas to all, and to all, please click here!’”

In his official Senate capacity, Franken continued leading a Senate secret Santa effort.

“Anything that brings Democrats and Republicans together and builds relationships is a good thing,” Franken said.

Franken gave Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., a hand-drawn map of the country highlighting states where important life events happened to the Indianan.

Gifts ranged from serious to funny. For instance, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., gave Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., an elephant statue made of coal and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., gave fake rattlesnake eggs and a real scorpion lollipop to Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii.

Bakk earns money

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk’s annual efforts to raise money for northeastern Minnesota food shelves brought in more than $120,000.

It was the Cook Democrat’s seven annual Stock the Shelves event in the Twin Cities.

“I’m proud to help raise money for the Arrowhead Region food shelves,” Bakk said. “Even with a recovering economy, job losses and rising food costs mean more families are stretched to the limit.”

Watch the stadium

There is a way for those who really want to watch every weld, every piece of metal going into place at the new Vikings stadium.

While construction barely has started, a Web camera at is offering a 50-yardline seat to construction watchers.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.