MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Gov. Jesse Ventura was joking on his weekly radio show when he said he and President Clinton drank beer and gin and smoked cigars until 4 a.m. at the White House last week, his office said.
John Wodele, a governor's spokesman, complained Monday that a Star Tribune story about Ventura's visit was inaccurate. The two men drank diet cola and only exchanged gifts of cigars, Wodele said.
Ventura told KCNN Radio in Grand Forks, N.D., on Tuesday that the article was "titillating National Enquirer stuff."
The governor said that in his job, "it's very difficult to speak freely because you have to judge every word that you say."
On his weekly show, broadcast Friday from a restaurant in Washington, D.C., Ventura devoted several minutes to Clinton's impromptu invitation to spend a night at the White House. He talked of sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom after staying up until 4 a.m. with the president.
In response to questions from Ventura spokesman John Wodele and the show's producer, David Ruth, Ventura also described the cigars he and Clinton exchanged, the White House beer inventory and how smoking isn't allowed in the White House itself, but is permitted on the balcony.
One stretch of loud, three-way banter included references to drinking multiple beers.
When told he didn't look hung over, Ventura said, "I'm not hung over." Then he added: "I'm an old frogman, I'm an old frogman. Take about a half, take about a half, half a case to get me to even feel it, before I even feel it, you know."
Later in the show, Ventura said that the conversation with Clinton didn't get rolling until "the second shot of Bombay Sapphire (gin)."
Wodele and Ruth chimed in with "joke, joke, joke." Ventura then said, "For the president's sake I'll say, 'Joke, joke, joke.' I don't mean to, you know, I'll survive it, but I don't want to, I don't want to cast anything onto the president to make anyone think that it was a Bombay Sapphire night."
In a written statement Monday, Star Tribune Editor Tim J. McGuire said, "If the governor's remarks were a joke, we certainly apologize for not being more skeptical.
"We should have included the 'joke-joke-joke' reference to the gin story to give it the proper perspective.
"I listened to the tape of the show, and I would think many listeners took the governor seriously when he discussed drinking beer and smoking cigars. We have often found that kidding around is open to misinterpretation. Again, we apologize if we misinterpreted the governor in this case."
Wodele said it was clear to those in the restaurant for the live broadcast that he, Ventura and Ruth were joking. Wodele criticized the Star Tribune for sending a Washington-based intern who was unfamiliar with Ventura to report on the radio show, and said other media didn't emphasize the talk about alcohol in their Saturday reports.
McGuire declined to answer that criticism.
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