The people on this list, for the most part, powerfully inspired one segment of the population while infuriating or disgusting another. In each case, advocates believed that the person in question showed guts, steadfastness, and integrity in pursuing what they believed to be moral aims. We invite you to vote and discuss which of them inspire you and why.
George W. Bush
Supporters believe that he fought hard for moral and just causes even when they were politically risky or unpopular among elite opinion-makers. Many other Americans are inspired by his personal faith journey and his willingness to talk openly and forthrightly about it.
Supporters were inspired by Kerry's hard work, persistence in the face of strong political attacks, and his earlier courage in Vietnam and as an anti-war protester. They were proud of his performance in the presidential debates and believed he articulated a vision of justice for those less fortunate.
Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ," released in February 2004, was a gamble for the action star, who invested $30 million of his own money to make it. The film truly inspired many, prompting outpourings of emotion and on-the-spot conversions to Christianity.
Documentary filmmaker Moore turned his camera on the war on terror with his hugely provocative and controversial movie "Fahrenheit 9/11." The film, which accused the Bush administration of fostering a culture of fear in the wake of the September 11th attacks, inspired Kerry voters and gave confidence to opponents of the war in Iraq.
White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice is the first African-American and the first woman to hold that position. Rice has been an articulate advocate for President Bush's military policies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a lynchpin of the war effort. In January, she will succeed Colin Powell as Secretary of State, the first African-American woman in that job.
Obama's passionate and well-argued keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention inspired Democrats to be proud of their progressive heritage. "We worship an awesome God in the blue states," the now-freshman senator from Illinois famously said.
Unlike many pundits and politicians who frequented TV news shows this year, John McCain maintained his reputation for bipartisan fairness. The Republican senator from Arizona campaigned for President Bush but refused to attack John Kerry's war record or descend into the gutter.
The legendary African-American comedian and lovable TV star risked his noncontroversial appeal to take provocative stands on issues he cares deeply about. This year, Cosby repeatedly criticized black entertainers and other African Americans for using bad grammar, and spoke out against illegitimacy, crime, and poor parenting in the black community.
Dean's presidential campaign energized and mobilized supporters, especially young people, to get involved in the election. Dean's outspoken anti-war views emboldened other Democratic politicans to be more critical of the Bush administration's Iraq policies.