In a testament to how divided Americans are about their president and how strongly held those opinions are, George W. Bush earns two titles in the latest AP-AOL News poll, conducted by Ipsos: villain of the year and hero of the year.
The poll asked adults to name a famous person to be named the biggest villain of the year, and allowed respondents to pick any name. Some 25 percent of adults picked George W. Bush as the biggest villain of the year. The poll also asked a similar question asking respondents to name a famous person as the biggest hero of the year, and Bush received the largest number of mentions, at 13 percent, of all respondents.
VILLAIN OF YEAR: Bush was far ahead of any other figure in the race for villain of the year. The runners-up were Osama bin Laden, who earned just 8 percent of mentions, Saddam Hussein, at 6 percent, and the president of Iran with 5 percent of mentions. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il rounded out the top five with just 2 percent of all mentions.
HERO OF YEAR: In the race for hero of the year, Bush won by a smaller margin, with the troops in Iraq coming in second place with 6 percent of mentions. Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama and Jesus Christ rounded out the top five with 3 percent of mentions each. Older adults were more likely to name Bush as hero than younger adults. Those 35 and older, 16 percent, were twice as likely as those under 35, 7 percent, to name Bush as hero. Fully a quarter of white evangelical Christians named Bush as hero, more than all Protestants, 18 percent, and Catholics, 12 percent.
BEST CELEBRITY ROLE MODEL:When asked to pick from a short list of nominees, 29 percent of respondents to the AP-AOL News poll chose Oprah Winfrey as best celebrity role model of the year, more than any other celebrity on the list. Michael J. Fox was chosen by 23 percent, George Clooney by 12 percent , and Angelina Jolie was chosen by 8 percent.Women, 36 percent, especially non-college educated women, 49 percent, were more likely than men, 21 percent, to choose Winfrey. In general, Winfrey was more popular with minorities, 40 percent, than with whites, 24 percent. While Fox was favored by young whites under 45 years old, at 34 percent, older whites favored Winfrey, at 28 percent.
WORST CELEBRITY ROLE MODEL: When asked to pick from a short list of nominees, 29 percent of respondents chose Britney Spears as worst celebrity role model of the year, more than any other celebrity on the list. Paris Hilton was chosen by 18 percent, Mel Gibson by 12 percent , and Tom Cruise by 9 percent. Those most likely to pick Spears as worst role model included those under 35 years of age, 37 percent, those with some college education but not a degree, 35 percent, especially women with some college education, 41 percent.