When I found out earlier this year that the Tiger King star Joe Exotic (real last name Maldonado) was running for president in Colorado via an official announcement, my brain immediately flooded with questions.

Questions like, is he even able to run? Does he have ANY remorse for the crimes he’s been convicted of? And having watched the Netflix series more than once—something I’m sure more than one reader of this interview is guilty of—I kept asking what in the Hell America would look like being run by a man with such an … “effervescent” personality?

I believe the answers to that last question would make many Coloradoans giddy. “My main topics are: I’m pro-choice, pro-second amendment. [I believe we should] stop funding other countries’ culture problems, get the USDA and FDA restrictions OFF of our farmers and ranchers, and clean up DC by passing a law of a five-year minimum prison sentence to any federal agent, judge, politician that violated their oath of office.” He also “believes in Bureau Of Land Management land for the use of cattle ranching, as long as it’s not overgrazed and the ranchers can live with the wild mustangs still roaming free.”

Given Colorado’s extensive history with cannabis, I asked how his drug crime policies would impact the Centennial State. He said, “We must decriminalize marijuana as federal prisons are overcrowded [with] people coming to Colorado and buying weed and going home, crossing state lines. I know I could work with the people of Colorado to preserve their way of life, the land, and better the economy all at the same time.”

And decriminalizing weed, “along with low amounts of meth and cocaine,” would only be the first step in his vision of what criminal justice reform would look like in a world of the Exotic. When it comes to our prisons and how he would use his firsthand experiences to overhaul them, Joe made his feelings crystal clear. “There is no real hope for our federal prison system. The staff is corrupt, and no one cares. The prison living quarters are below the requirements of a zoo for animals. There are more drugs in prison than out of prison; the system breeds drug addicts and racists.”

Because of this, he says he “would pardon any non-violent drug offender, white collar crime, and any non-violent offender that has served two years. Then, I would stop the FBI from charging people with ghost dope; the feds convict on hearsay, where a state cannot. That’s how they convicted me too!”

When examining his convictions—17 federal charges of animal abuse and two counts of murder for hire—two of the biggest questions come to mind: “Is he even capable of running in the state?” and “Does he feel any remorse for what he’s done?”

First off, because of a loophole that doesn’t require Exotic to be present if he wins the primary election for a major party, he has opted to run as a Democrat. This means that yes, he can technically run. With that said, the latest statements made by the Colorado Secretary of State make it clear that Maldonado is not on the ballot. When I asked him about this, he had a different story, “[No], I do not have to be present. I have passed all federal requirements to be on the ballot. The problem is the Colorado Democratic party may vote to keep me off, and that will hurt them. I was on the Colorado ballot in 2016 as an independent.”

Of course, this “is he, isn’t he?” thought process when it comes to his inclusion on the ballot isn’t going to mean much if Exotic has learned nothing from his dastardly actions. When he told me, “I’ve been in solitary two years and eight months out of five years,” I surely thought that he would have come to the realization that the quality of his life is a direct reflection of his misdeeds.

I was sadly, sickeningly mistaken.

Though he did admit that when it came to hiring men to kill Carole Baskin he “should have just left her alone instead of trying to prove she killed her husband,” he immediately followed it up with finger-pointing. “But her goal was to shut me down and pass this bill to monopolize on the tiger market as her Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and American Zoo Association are the only ones exempt.”

He continued, “I’m a political prisoner for the big cat safety net. I’ve been waiting 16 months for this judge to rule on my motion for a new trial and he won’t cause this time he and the DOT will lose. Their hitman and witnesses have all admitted to perjury and a plot to kill me while running for governor. But NO ONE will report it and help be my voice to Biden; videos at joeexotic2024.com/evidence. I’ve lost my life, my parents, all while being wrongfully detained, and it must change before it happens to more people.”

And when the topic of animal treatment came up, his response seemed somewhat dismissive.

“I took care of my animals. I euthanized five tigers the same humane way every rancher puts down a sick cow or horse.”

I’m sorry, but that isn’t good enough.

Look, I truly believe that redemption for anyone is possible. Having held a yearslong addiction to opioids and being able to quit them—all while getting my life back together—has shown me that anything is possible. But when you’ve been in solitary confinement for about half of your current stretch, and you still see yourself as the victim somehow when the evidence clearly indicates otherwise, two things become clear. The first is that you’ve learned nothing. The second is that your final quote of, “I will not give up—I just pray people won’t give up on me” comes off as incredibly hollow.

Joe, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but until you’re able to show some serious remorse, I highly doubt the Greenies will have your back … ever.