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Old 10-27-10, 03:31 AM
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Is Jon Stewart More Influential Than President Obama?

Is Jon Stewart More Influential Than President Obama? - October 26, 2010 2:00 PM PDT

The man who tops AskMen's list of the Top 49 Most Influential Men of 2010 is one of our youth's most trusted sources of information and a voice of both reason and hope in these economically and politically turbulent times. And no, he's not the president.

"The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart nabbed the No. 1 position on AskMen's annual list of men of influence, while President Barack Obama dropped significantly in the ranks, coming in at No. 21, after landing the No. 3 spot in 2009, and the No. 1 position in 2008, right before he took office. Even some of this year's most controversial figures like Lebron James (No. 17), Kanye West (No. 5), and Mark Zuckerberg (No. 3), the inspiration behind David Fincher's "The Social Network," ranked higher than the president.

But can a man who hosts the "fake news" five nights a week really be more influential than the President of the United States? Maybe.

Tomorrow night, Obama will be a guest on Stewart's show for the fifth time, and notably his first time as the President of the United States. Considering Obama's approval rating is lingering in the mid- to low-40% range, a significant drop from last year's 68%, returning to the show that gave him a political platform before he took office isn't such a bad idea with midterm elections around the corner.

And on October 30, three days before the midterm elections, Stewart will take over Obama's stomping grounds in Washington with his Rally to Restore Sanity, an event he is describing as, "a rally for people who've been too busy to go to rallies." Stewart will be joined by friend and host of "The Colbert Report" Stephen Colbert, No. 11 on AskMen's list, who will host his satirical March to Keep Fear Alive at the same time. "The Daily Show" host insists that the event is non-political, but with well over 100,000 Americans already planning to attend, Stewart might just do a better job shaping America's political sphere simply by working outside of it.

Modern Men Are More Inspired By Rule Breakers and Path Blazers

Like Stewart, many of the men who made AskMen's Top 49 Most Influential Men of 2010 are the kind of men who don't follow the obvious route to meet their goals, who aren't afraid to break rules or make new ones on their respective paths to greatness.

Take Conan O'Brien, No. 12 on the list, who walked away from his dream job hosting "The Tonight Show" when NBC pushed him into a midnight time slot. Team Coco has since become a thing of legend, not to mention a poster and a T-shirt. "I did it my way and I do not regret a second," he said to the audience on his last episode. "If our next gig is doing a show in a 7-Eleven parking lot, we'll find a way to make it fun." Fortunately for Conan, his next gig is on TBS starting November 8, and his popularity has never been higher.

Modern Men Believe in Men Who Take Risks

Likewise, Justin Timberlake (No. 33) put his pop music career on hold to pursue a career as an actor. The world usually isn't kind to crossover artists, but Timberlake risked the criticism and the potential career backlash and did it anyway. His performance as Napster founder Sean Parker in "The Social Network" continues to receive rave reviews and award buzz.

And there's "127 Hours" star James Franco (No. 7) who's already on Hollywoods A-list, but that hasn't dissuaded him from enrolling in four graduate programs, publishing a book of well-received short stories, guest-starring on "General Hospital" for the sake of "performance art," and making a series of experimental short films. At just 32-years-old, he's already been labeled a modern-day Renaissance man. He had to risk his credibility to get to where he is, but all great men have to risk not being taken seriously before they can truly be great.

And that brings us back to Conan. Before signing off on "The Tonight Show" for good to a future unknown, O'Brien signed off with a request of the audience: "All I ask of you, especially young people ... is one thing: Please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism -- it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen."

Other notable rule breakers and path blazers who made the list: British funnyman Russell Brand (No. 49), Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler (No. 44), comedy's current "it" guy Zach Galifianakis (No. 29), rapper Eminem (No. 24), and "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner (No. 20).

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