Thursday, Apr. 30, 2009

Joel Stein Ranks the TIME 100

1. Lauren Zalaznick: Did anyone else on this list have breakfast with me once a month and guide me through TIME editors cancelling my column and pilots not getting picked up? Deciding to propose, move to L.A., have kids? Give me column ideas? Answer: No one else on the list has had breakfast with me even once. And I'm pretty sure that other than maybe the physicist guy, the Harvard doctor, Carlos Slim, Obama, Hilary Clinton, the economists and maybe on a good day Zac Efron, you're the smartest person on the list.

2. Twitter Guys: I have so much trouble forcing myself to write when other people are paying me, and yet I'll donate 140 characters to you for free. You have given me yet another narcissistic data point to gauge my popularity.

3. Jeff Bezos: I have not been to a mall in years. Telecommuting to shop is even better than telecommuting to work.

4. George Clooney: You came for dinner and, in an effort to stop a beeping alarm, entered my attic. Now I know I have an attic. Since I have never, and will never, go into my own attic, it's now officially referred in the house as the Clooney Attic. Also, I saw your picture on the New York Times website and learned something about Darfur, which I've since forgotten. But my attic thanks to you!

5. Nicholas Christakis: Your brilliant take on how the outbreak of peanut allergies is akin to Munchausen by proxy was so convincing, I wrote a column making the argument. Then all my friends with children with nut allergies yelled at me. Thanks, Nicholas Christakis!

6. Dan Barber: I ate at both your Manhattan restaurant and the one upstate. Not only were the meals great, but some dude came out with uncooked baby carrots to tell us all about how special they are. I use that schtick all the time at home now. It's hilarious!

7. Zac Efron: I interviewed you over coffee and though you didn't say anything that changed my life, I do go to that coffee place now when I'm in the Valley. Aroma has a killer chocolate chip bread pudding!

8. Alan Mulally: When we first moved to L.A., my wife bought a cool black Mustang with silver stripes that Starsky would have loved. Then she got paranoid that it would break down and traded it in for a Prius. Point is, Alan Mulally, if you made some commercials about how Mustangs never break down, I wouldn't have to be seen in a Prius.

9. Penelope Cruz: Every time I see you, you influence a certain part of my body.

10. Michelle Obama: I used to just do three sets of tri-s and bi-s. Now I make sure to hit the shoulders hard too.

11. Jay Leno: I was at your show in the dressing room with Ron Paul when another guest, Tom Cruise, came in to thank Paul for some piece of legislation about psychology or something. Cruise left and Paul asked who that guy was. Awesome.

12. Barack Obama: All this change you talked about should have landed you at no.1. But my life is pretty much the same as it was before January 20. I did, however, gamble on you at and won about $300. Also, I got really drunk at your convention, which was fun.

13. Hillary Clinton: I won $100 from my Mom when Hillary lost the nomination. Thanks, Hil! Also, you said hi to me when we passed each other in the hall at the Bellagio right before the Nevada caucus. I'll dine out on that story forever.

14. Paul Krugman: I taped what was to be a recurring CNN segment called Global Village Idiot with you on September 10, 2001. This never aired. But I feel my questions influenced you, and brought you to the Nobel-winning level you're at today. So really, the way I see it, I should be number 14.

15. Paul Kagame: Ending Rwandan genocide, even for a little while, means I get to stop listening to celebrities talk about Rwandan genocide, even if just for a little while.

16. Boris Johnson: Before you, flippant journalists who say insane things and cannot figure out what to do with their hair could not go into politics. Hey Boris, meet your future fellow mayor of Los Angeles!

17. Nicolas Sarkozy: When Jacques Chirac was President of France, I don't remember seeing one photo of his wife. Now I get my fill of hot French lady photos every week. Merci beaucoup!

18. Moot: That is one dirty, dirty, dirty website you have.

19. Stella McCartney: I worked in one of your stores as a salesperson for a day, and my wife came to visit me and wound up buying a very expensive dress. You are a brilliant marketer.

20. Brad Pitt: Three days! It took me three days to get through the screener of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button because I kept falling asleep. And then I had to come up with jokes about it when I wrote for the Oscars. Or, more accurately, look at a room service menu while other people did.

21. Tom Hanks: I'm friends with your son. Who you made. Nice job.

22. Tina Fey: I cannot reveal the details of my Colin Hanks/Tina Fey story, but it is the second best TIME magazine story I have. The first best involves Robert Hughes' empty office doorknob, a thong sent as publicity for a movie based on the Real World, and the phrase "If Robert Hughes' office is rockin', don't bother knockin'."

23. Oprah Winfrey: Because I'm a carbon-based life form.

24. Sheila Bair, FDIC: For a few weeks, Steinacopia, the bogus company I run for shady accounting purposes, had more than $100,000 in a bank account. And you protected it. I felt safe in your hands, Shelia.

25. Kate Winslet: I believe she was in every movie I saw this year.

26. M.I.A.: Thanks to your sample, I found the Clash's "Straight to Hell."

27. Sarah Palin: Holy crap that was funny.

28. Leonard Abess: After you sold a majority stake in your bank and gave $60 million to your bank employees all I could think was, "If I somehow sold a majority stake in a bank, would people expect me to give away $60 million? Did you ruin it for the rest of us?"

29. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger: You made me pay attention to the part about "in case of a water landing." I always ignore that part, figuring we had no chance.

30. Rick Warren: Did you know that I've been talking to the Christian comedy improv group at your church about performing with them next month? I bet you didn't!

31. Nandan Nilekani: Thanks to Infosys, I get to have long conversations about politics, culture and food with people in India every time I have an IT problem. Hope that's not costing you too much, Nandan.

32. Tessa Ross: You took up exactly 120 minutes of my time when I watched the movie you produced, Slumdog Millionaire. And then zero minutes of my thinking time after. So you influenced me for two hours.

33. A.R. Rahman: You did the music for Slumdog, which took up even less of my brain. Though I learned that if you twist on the ball of one foot and pretend you're screwing in a lightbulb with the opposite hand, you can be in a Bollywood dance number.

34. Ted Turner: He created CNN Headline News, which paid me to talk during the inauguration. Guess who watches CNN Headline News instead of CNN during the inauguration? Because I can't.

35. The View Ladies: You give wings to the misogyny buried inside of me.

36. Gustavo Dudamel: Since you moved to L.A., your crazy hair has made my crazy hair that much less crazy.

37. Dambisa Moyo: The whole USA Not For Africa thing made me give even more to

38. Rush Limbaugh: When you called Bill O'Reilly "Ted Baxter" I became a Rush Limbaugh fan. Also a Bill O'Reilly fan. Brilliant!

39. Somaly Mam: Do you know why I care about Cambodian civil rights? Because Angelina Jolie does. Also, because I memorized Pol Pot's name back in high school model U.N. and want to get some mileage out of it.

40. T. Boone Pickens: I walked by you at the Republican convention as you were getting in a golf cart with your wife, the most Texan looking woman I have ever seen. In that moment, I understood everything about Texas I'll ever need to know.

41. Rafael Nadal: I hadn't watched an entire tennis match on TV in my life. I was rooting for you, and then against you, and then really against you.

42. Ted Kennedy: I know you've done super-important stuff for like decades, but the main effect you have on me is that I pull my windows down before I drive over a bridge.

43. Meredith Whitney: You make excellent stock predictions and are married to a professional wrestler. But I'm a mutual funds and Tour de France guy.

44. Martin Lindstrom: I had you up at number 23 until I found out that you are not a hockey player.

45. Tiger Woods: I don't like golf. Weird, right?

46. William Kentridge: I read an article about you in TIME. All the way through.

47. Lance Corporal Brady "Goose" Gustafson: When I heard about you, which was right after I typed in "number 47," I decided I needed a cool nickname of my own. Say hello to Joel "Goose" Stein!

48. Jack Ma: Ma doesn't eat shark fin soup, I don't eat shark fin soup. I never had, but now I never will.

49. Carlos Slim: When the world's third richest person is Mexican, you feel bad about yourself as a Jew.

50. Stephan Schuster and Webb Miller: By saying they can clone a wooly mammoth for $10 million, they are searching out people richer and nerdier than I am, a list I intend to use for some kind of grift. Like claiming I can clone a wooly mammoth.

51. Seth Berkley: He's working on an AIDS vaccine. When he hits it, there's going to be some huge party that makes the 70s look like Romper Room.

52. Bernie Madoff: Not good for us Jews.

53. Jamie Dimon: I have a Chase Visa that gives me 3% back in cash. Thanks, Jamie!

54. Lang Lang: I was at the Los Angeles Philharmonic when I was getting bored since I was at the philharmonic and I flipped through the program and saw an ad for a concert by "Lang Lang." Not only was I awake for the rest of the performance, but I was biting my tongue trying not to laugh.

55. Tom Dart: As sheriff in some part of Illinois, he's shutting down prostitution on Craigslist. I've never used Craigslist, but as I get older, I like to know it's there. Just in case.

56. Joaquin Guzman: I don't do drugs. But again, I like to know it's there just in case.

57. Elizabeth Warren: She runs TARP. TARP is going to cost me a lot one day. You can tell how disastrous it is because they don't call it TARP anymore.

58. Christine Lagarde: I don't know how the economy works, but I am pretty sure that the finance minister of France can effect how much I pay for wine.

59. Suze Orman: My mom watches you all the time. But my mom bought a second home in Key West to rent out to people. If you can't influence my mom, you can't influence anyone. Law and Order influences my Mom.

60. Avigdor Lieberman: As a far-right Israeli politician, I am pretty sure you are going to cause me to read a lot of New York Times editorials.

61. Wang Qishan: When you apologized, China gasped. Whereas I can't read your name without getting T Rex's "Bang a Gong" stuck in my head.

62. Nouri Al-Maliki: If I played Celebrity Dead Pool, I would have lost lots of money. But I don't.

63. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani: You are exactly my age and run Pakistan's military. This makes my parents put a lot of pressure on me.

64. David McKiernan: I know the Taliban are scary, but for the most part what happens in Afghanistan, stays in Afghanistan for several millennia.

65. Daniel Nocera: When the proton-coupled-electron transfer happens, call me buddy.

66. Paul Ekman: The Fox show Lie to Me was based on your life. Haven't seen that yet.

67. Roland Fryer: You pay kids for not cutting classes. Very cool, but I am out of school.

68. Nate Silver: With, you applied baseball statistical methods to political polling. You make me look cool.

69. Warner Herzog: You made 100,000 movies, but all I know is that in Grizzly Man you said, apropos of nothing, "I believe the common character of the universe is not harmony, but hostility, chaos and murder." And now I can't stop saying it too.

70. Diller & Scofidio: If these are the old guys on The Muppets, then move them up to the top 10. If it's a pair of architects, keep them right here.

71. Steven Chu: As Secretary of Energy, you're pro nuclear energy. That would be radical if this were 1979.

72. Amory Lovins: Don't know what you do, but I'm pretty sure Seth Rogen is going to steal your name for a script.

73. Hadizatou Mani: Luckily, I do not traffic in humans. Otherwise, you'd be number one on my list. Also, I don't think I'd be very good at it.

74. Van Jones: As one of TIME's Environmental Heroes, I thank you for not personally boring me.

75. Connie Hedegaard: You made Denmark environmentally conscious? Let's put the person who made Miami care about its looks on this list too.

76. David Sheff: As the author of a book about your son's meth addiction, you have taken away any book deal I could get if my unborn son someday has a meth addiction.

77. Judith Jameson: I'm not big on dance.

78. Tavis Smiley: It's not "Travis" Smiley? I think that makes my point.

79. Dan & Sam Houser: I don't play Grand Theft Auto — not because I'm morally opposed, but because it's too confusing for me. It's actually easier to kill a hooker in real life.

80. Michael Eavis: You created a huge music festival I've never heard of. Awesome. Did we put the Coachella guy on the list last year or something?

81. Gordon Brown: Do I expect the prime minister of England to be exciting? No. But you, sir, have exceeded expectations.

82. Xi Jinping: You are the next leader of China. I have years before I try and fail to memorize your name.

83. Barbara Hogan: As the minister of health in South Africa, you won't matter until I visit South Africa and get sick there.

84. Norah al-Faiz: Saudi Arabian feminist? You sound as influential at the vegan who works at KFC.

85. Suraya Pakzad: A feminist in Afghanistan? See number 84.

86. Yoichiro Nambu: No, your theory of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic particles didn't influence me directly this year, but if I live long enough to see the end of the universe, it might.

87. Sister Mary Scullion: I feel very strongly about working on the homeless problem, and you are doing incredible work. Unfortunately, your work has no effect on me, since I feel even more strongly about not going to Philadelphia.

88. Jeff Kinney: Your Diary of a Wimpy Kid sounds great, but has escaped my attention until now. If it's good, you'll be higher next year. If it's not good, then that's good news for number 100, Nouriel Roubini.

89. Captain Phillips. Were I on a boat near the Somali coast, you'd be #1. I have made no travel plans.

90. Manny Pacquiao: Pound for pound the best boxer in the world? That would be awesome if it were 1954. But in 2009, that's right below pound for pound the best Guitar Hero player in the world.

91. John Legend: I would have thought you influence my life, but you really don't.

92. Doug Melton: You've been on this list twice, and still no one has heard of you. Perhaps this influential list isn't very influential.

93. Alexander Medvedev: You run Russia. Sure you do.

94. Angela Merkel: Not only don't I live in Germany, but my entire race left there 60 years ago. Do whatever you like, lady, no big deal to me.

95. John Favreau: You are, without a doubt, the least influential Jon Favreau in my life.

97. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono: You run Indonesia? Good for you! I run a house on Cazaux Place. We're about even.

98. Robin Chase: Really? Zipcars? You can get on this list for creating something everyone talks about but no one uses? Is the person who invented the dental dam on this list too?

99. Shai Agassi: You work on green transportation. I live in Los Angeles.

100. Nouriel Roubini: You predicted the housing bubble before it happened? Well, that might make you the least influential person in the entire world. I predicted the Yankees need a set-up man. I guess I'm an influencer too.