You won't be surprised to hear this from me, but I think Time's "100 most influential people" list was pretty much completely discredited the minute they put Ann Coulter on it. I mean, sure, when you say "name me a right-wing female columnist" hers is the first name people will come up with, but so what? I'm getting really tired of magazines taking hate-filled, antisocial, or otherwise deviant people who get attention primarily through being completely obnoxious and naming them "Most Influential" or "Most Powerful" or whatever, because they usually do so with the tired-ass rationale that "Love 'em or hate 'em, you gotta admit they get people's attention!" Hey, the nutbags in the New York subway who wear their undewear outside their clothes and preach about how Jesus will be returning to Earth as a jellyfish get people's attention, too, but I don't see Time marveling at what profound, original thinkers they are.
Furthermore, even within her little neofascist Keebler tree, I don't see Coulter wielding that much "influence." Sure, she spits out a column a week where (rather than advancing any particular cause or debating an issue) she defames liberals with as many slanderous epithets as she can before her handlers come along and wrestle her back into her cage, and the Freepi and LGF minions salivate like the good little Pavlov dogs that they are, but has she influenced them in any way? They wouldn't hate Muslims or liberals any less than if Ann Coulter had never come along, and certainly she isn't changing any liberals' minds, so in the end she's not "influencing" anyone to do anything other than more firmly entrench themselves in beliefs they already held. She's not an opinion-maker or a trendsetter; she's a fluffer, a dick-stiffener for the right-wingers who think that as long as they can find enough other people who hold it, their opinion that our foreign policy should be centered around nuking Mecca is valid and intelligent.
Really, though, outside of truly powerful and influential world leaders like George W. Bush and Ali Sistani, the whole list is kind of a joke. Not to discount the achievement of Ellen MacArthur, who recently set a speed record for sailing around the world, but whom has she really "influenced"? (Are people suddenly bum-rushing boat shows to try and get a head start on re-creating her feat?) Same with Hillary Swank: Great actress, but what has she influenced people to do besides spend eight bucks to see "Million Dollar Baby"?
Even some of the political/social leaders on the list are questionable, and I'd go so far as to ask whether Barack Obama -- a guy I really like and admire, and look forward to supporting for an office higher than the Senate sometime down the road -- can be called one of the world's 100 most influential people after less than five months in Washington. Yes, at last year's DNC he gave one of the most inspiring (and inspired) political speeches I've ever heard, but I don't see how you can make the case that he's more influential than, say, Harry Reid, who is calling the shots for the Democrats in a high-stakes game of procedural chicken with the Senate Republicans and has been doing a rather impressive job of it, too, especially considering the suddenness with which he was dropped into the role. Or Howard Dean, who, despite the mainstream media's attempt to marginalize him as a nutcase, is in the process of shaking up the national party hierarchy more than anyone has in the last decade.
Instead of Johnny Depp or Michael Schumacher (he's a Formula 1 driver -- ever heard of him?), I would've liked to see names like Myles Brand, who, as the head of the NCAA, pulls the strings for an organization that (for better or worse) commands a truly staggering amount of the money we spend in this country; or Robert Lutz, who, as the vice-chairman of the largest automobile company in the world, has declared it his mission to turn GM's products from cars purchased by people who don't really care what they drive into cars people buy because they want to, because they inspire passion in drivers.
I don't want anyone getting the impression that I only think true influence is restricted to poiticians or people who make a big impact on how people spend money, but face it, that kind of power is a lot more relevant and influential than someone who simply gets people to say, "Yeah, that was a good movie/album/jump shot." In the end, it seems like what Time was really putting together -- beyond the natural choices like Bush, Ariel Sharon, Bill Gates, etc. -- was a list of 100 People Who Are Cool and We Felt Like Writing About Them. More specifically, though, it comes across as 100 People Who Did Something Important Recently That You Should Know About But Most Of Them Are Too Obscure For You To Have Ever Heard Of Them And We Didn't Think You'd Read An Entire Feature Article On Them, So Here's A Couple Hundred Words So We Can Say We Tried. That's insulting to not just those supposedly "influential" people but to the readers as well, and I'd be perfectly happy if Time never bothered with this again. If I want lists of people, I'll stick with FHM's "100 Sexiest Women in the World" issue -- sure, it's sexist and superficial, but at least FHM doesn't have any delusions of grandeur about what they're actually doing.