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Bush tops AP's "Heroes and Villians" poll

Posted at 1:07 PM on December 28, 2006 by Bill Wareham

WASHINGTON (AP) - Bad guy of 2006: President Bush. Good guy of
2006: President Bush.

When people were asked in an AP-AOL News poll to name the
villains and heroes of the year, Bush topped both lists, in a sign
of these polarized times.

Among entertainment celebrities, Oprah Winfrey edged out Michael
J. Fox as the best celebrity role model while Britney Spears
outdistanced Paris Hilton as the worst.

Bush won the villain sweepstakes by a landslide, with one in
four respondents putting him at the top of that bad-guy list. When
people were asked to name the candidate for villain that first came
to mind, Bush far outdistanced even Osama bin Laden, the terrorist
leader in hiding; and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who is
scheduled for execution.

The president was picked as hero of the year by a much smaller
margin. In the poll, 13 percent named him as their favorite while 6
percent cited the troops in Iraq.

On the question of celebrity role models, a pop singer's bad
behavior claimed worst honors.

When asked to choose from a list of names, nearly three in 10
adults, or 29 percent, bestowed the honor of worst celebrity of the
year on Spears.

The 25-year-old pop singer and mother of two young sons recently
filed for divorce from Kevin Federline, her husband of two years.
She then followed with highly publicized nights out with party
girls Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, including photographic evidence of
Spears wearing no underpants, which raised questions about her
fitness as a parent.

Spears apologized on her Web site, saying she probably went "a
little too far" with her newfound freedom.

Second-worst celebrity billing went to Hilton, 18 percent. The
25-year-old celebutante was arrested for drunken driving in Los
Angeles in September while, she has said, she was on a late-night
hamburger run.

Mel Gibson, 50, was third-worst celebrity with 12 percent,
surely the result of his anti-Semitic tirade at police in Malibu,
Calif., during his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving. He later
apologized and said he harbored no animosity toward Jews.

In the best celebrity role model category, 29 percent of adults
chose talk-show host Winfrey.

The philanthropist and entertainment mogul contributed $40
million toward the establishment of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership
Academy for Girls in South Africa, which is scheduled to open next
month.

Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, finished second with 23
percent. He recently was criticized by conservatives for political
ads that showed his body shaking as he urged support for a ballot
measure promoting stem cell research and for the Democratic Senate
candidate over the Republican.

Actor George Clooney, who's been advocating for refugees in the
war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan, finished third with 12 percent.

Eight percent chose Angelina Jolie over boyfriend Brad Pitt, 2
percent. Newlyweds Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes tied at 2 percent.

Rounding out the worst celebrity role model category were
Cruise, 9 percent; former "Seinfeld" star Michael Richards, 6
percent; Nicole Richie, 5 percent; Federline, 4 percent; Lohan, 3
percent; and Jolie, 2 percent.

Jolie and Cruise were the only celebrities to land on both the
best and worst lists. But more people named Jolie best celebrity
role model, and more people named Cruise worst.

Bush was the choice of 43 percent of Democrats for villain, and
27 percent of Republicans for hero.

The telephone poll of 1,004 adults was conducted Dec. 19-21 by
Ipsos, an international polling firm. The margin of sampling error
was plus or minus 3 percentage points.