While Barack Obama authorized the kill operation of Osama bin Laden, Gary Johnson – a 2012 presidential contender on the Republican side – probably could have hopped on the helicopter and done the job himself.

Iron Man

Johnson finished the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon five times and scaled some of the tallest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest. Early in his adult life, he pursued a career as a professional skier (Reason).

He once stomped out a forest fire in Los Alamos with just his feet.

One time, to prove he can endure the cold, he shut himself inside a freezer. On another occasion, he clamped an alligator clip on his tongue to prove his toughness against physical pain (Economist).

A Republican staunchly against unnecessary government regulation, he admits to running red traffic lights late at night when no one else is around.

He also thinks one should be able to go as fast as 140 miles per hour on lonely stretches of highways, although he didn’t admit to doing so himself (NPR).


Johnson is a self-made man.

In 1974, he started his handyman business by handing out door-to-door circulars that read: “college student needs work. Will do carpentry, painting, cement, anything and everything.” (New Mexico Business Journal).

He said he got the idea from children who handed out circulars that offered to rake leaves and mow lawns.

Early in his one-man operation, Johnson had an epiphany. He told the New Mexico Business Journal the following:

Along came about the fifth job and this fellow wanted rocks spread out all over his whole yard. And I remember thinking it was going to take about 22 hours to do the job, so I said 80 bucks; he said fine. I showed up on Saturday thinking I was going to work all day Saturday and all day Sunday. I started at seven o'clock, and at 10:30 I was finished with the job. Then it was Oh, my god, what am I going to do? This is 22 bucks an hour. He's not going to pay me. What am I going to do? And, hey, there's only so much you can do with rocks. I'm done with the job, and he walks out, and my heart's racing. And he says I see you're done with the job and he handed me the check for 80 bucks. And I remember looking at the check and thinking, This is the American way. And at that point I knew I would never be employed by anyone, meaning I would always be self-employed.

When Johnson finally sold his business in 1999, it employed over 1,000 workers.

Drugs & Prostitution

On a personal level, Johnson admits to using marijuana recreationally in the early 1970s. However, he has long stopped. He also abstains from alcohol and limits his sugar intake.

He went straight edge because of an epiphany he had in his skier days. He said he once took a hit of marijuana while on a ski lift. Then, on his way downhill, his performance dramatically dropped. He then had a deep realization that marijuana was preventing him from achieving his dream of skiing professionally.

Johnson, however, believes the government shouldn’t meddle in people’s choice to smoke marijuana.

On heroin, he advocates a government-supported “maintenance program” which minimizes costs and risks by administering the drug to addicts in a safe, controlled environment.

Johnson emphatically believes that the current government policy of ‘war on drugs’ has failed miserably.

He said the following in an interview with Reason:

My premise is the war in drugs is a miserable failure. I don’t know of a bigger problem in every single state, or a bigger expense that might actually have alternative solutions. Drugs account for half of law enforcement spending, half of prison spending, half of court spending. What are we getting for it? We are arresting 1.6 million people a year in this country on drug-related charges, and it’s a failure.

On his support for prostitution decriminalization, he said the following to Reason:

Given that prostitution takes place, the question is, ‘Are you safer engaging a prostitute in Nevada or New Mexico?’ I think you are clearly safer engaging one in Nevada in a licensed prostitution establishment.

Schools, Highways, Prisons

Johnson staunchly supports school vouchers. He also supports privately built highways and prisons.

Ever the pragmatist, his rule of thumb is the ‘best bang for the buck.’ Whenever he can get the job done better by private contractors, he goes for it.

State Budget

Johnson cut government spending and left New Mexico with a $