Stranger in a Strange Land
Earlier today I attended the taping of this week's MSNBC program "Jesse Ventura's America." Without further ado, I'll get right to the topic everyone out there is eagerly awaiting - the early revelation of the Dork of the Week.
In the parlance of software development, this announcement has become the "killer app" of Fraters Libertas. After all the excess and ornamentation is stripped away, this is our reason for being in the marketplace. Week after week (well last week and this week anyway), you can turn to us to get a jump on your colleagues in crafting your intelligent analysis and witty asides for your watercooler chatter on Monday morning. Because all those other saps (non-Fraters readers) will have to wait until Saturday at 6 PM (CST) to find out that the Dork of the Week is .....
Kip Wall. (TA-DA!)
And believe it or not, he's not the Dork of the Week based on his name alone. I mean come on - 'Kip'? Sounds like some guy pledging Omega House. This name doesn't exist in Minnesota so I don't know what it's source is. Were his parents crazy about the Kiplinger Washington Letter? Maybe just big fans of Tom Hanks' work in Bosom Buddies?
In reality, Kip Wall is the Executive Director of the state insurance plan for the state of Louisiana. He recently approved weight reduction surgery (stomach stapling) for obese employees as a part of the state's health plan. Jesse had some point about how this represented government waste. But truth be told, I really wasn't paying attention to his reasoning since during this segment the audience coordinator Sonja was hovering about in the wings, and let's just say her blonde hair and tight turtlenecked presence demands attention (va-va-voom).
If Jesse took suggestions for Dork of the Week, I was prepared to shout out "JB Doubtless." If for no other reason than his non-appearance at this event. Despite acquiring one of the prized seats in the audience, he was a no-show. I forget the exact reason, something about an interview with a Fortune 500 company, or getting married, or having a kid, or some other BS excuse. But since Jesse didn't solicit suggestions, we're left the lesser choice of Kip Wall and all that implies.
Now my impressions of the show. In general, being a tourist in Jesse Ventura's America is pleasant and highly entertaining. He has a very efficient organization around him, the crew is professional and welcoming, and everything was done in one take. In person, Jesse is charming and funny, with a real populist appeal and I was reminded why he was such a strong candidate back in 1998.
Since the Elder's masterful description of events a week ago are all true, I won't repeat those details. I was kind of hoping he was engaging in some sort of deception so I could start one of those stalker/fact checking sites that the likes of Andrew Sullivan, Instapundit and David Horowitz have acquired. I was going to call it Fraters Liartas or Fibbers Libertas. But since our truth rate remains remarkably high, I'll have to put that idea on ice (at least until the Atomizer does another one of his posts about how much he loves everybody).
The main difference between my experience and the Elder's was that the first guest appeared via satellite, rather than live. And, curse the luck, the first guest happened to be Ted Nugent. I never even got to see the Motor City Madman, since the large video screen was placed (with its back to us) in front of the audience section I was in.
Given the overexposure received by the Elder's crotch last week (and no doubt the flood of complaints from the Family Research Council), I thought this might have been some sort of patented Crotch Blocking device. And while it no doubt served that purpose (and thus negated the promotional affect of the "Fraters Libertas" cod piece I was wearing), its intended purpose was to beam Nugent's image in from Michigan. Even though we never saw him, according to rumors that filtered into our section, he was wearing a 'Predator' hat and camouflage of some sort.
Before the show started, Jesse came out and warmed up the audience for a few minutes. This period was extended longer than normal due to satellite problems (which some tech was blaming on solar flares). The highlights included his telling of the "real" reason he didn't run for a second term as Governor. This may be a world exclusive for Fraters Libertas (although it seems to me I've heard of it before), but he said it was because of the various unions for state employees. Jesse said he was appalled when they went on strike back in 2001, just a few weeks after the September 11 atrocities. And he was further appalled when they criticized his visiting of Ground Zero, for some partisan reason or another. Jesse summed up his decision for not running by saying "I just didn't want to be these people's boss any longer." A sentiment current Gov. Pawlenty probably empathizes with at this point.
Jesse also spent a few minutes decrying the fact he couldn't charge the Star Tribune for his lawyer's fees when successfully fighting some error about him that resulted in a retraction. Again! Yes, as the Elder talked about last week, Jesse is still peeved about this, and given his history of holding grudges, might be for years to come.
Besides Nugent, who very articulately discussed gun rights, the only other guest was an author who wrote a book alleging that Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. His evidence seemed thin, although he didn't get much of a chance to present it, since Jesse was more interested in talking about the fall out he may face for making such an outrageous charge. But the one remarkable fact that emerged was that this author, Barr McClellan, is the father of current White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. According to Barr, his son hasn't read the book, and they're not on regular speaking terms (he said he hoped the two could talk at the younger McCellan's upcoming wedding), so conspiracy-minded scandal mongers may not have much to go on here (sorry Babelogue).
Now to the other question many of you no doubt are asking. Will you be able to see the face of the legendary Saint Paul on your very own televisions? Well, the answer is, maybe. The audience does get a lot of face time during the broadcast. Particularly the group of 12 or so in the section designated for interaction. But since I wasn't in that group, it's going to be hit or miss. The camera did breeze over our section many times, and we did sit for 'reaction' shots that may be used to fill in holes in the broadcast. So no doubt I'll be in some wide shots and maybe, just maybe, I'll get a close up. Believe me, I did my best to get on, emoting like a dinner theater understudy every time they directed us to act like we just heard something funny or something shocking.
How to spot me? I'll be in the first row of the 'non-special' section. The guy in the middle, with the brown sweater and the bedroom eyes, with the cute and sweet smelling chicky-baby Stacy on my left (as the dream of Smello-vision TV never came to pass, you'll have to trust me on her scent).
In an attempt to promote the blogosphere, also notice I'm blinking out the letters for Fraters Libertas, SCSU Scholars, Shot in the Dark, Powerline, and the Bleat, in Morse Code with my eyelids. No need to thank me guys, I'm just happy to have taken another giant leap in credibility for the Northern Alliance.
See it all for yourself, 6PM CST, Saturday on MSNBC.