35. WANDA SYKES
The 45-year-old stand-up comedian and actress has never shied away from frank sociopolitical commentary, but 2008 found her speaking out about her sexuality -- and against Proposition 8 -- as she made a surprising appearance at a Las Vegas gay rights rally in November. Since then, Sykes, who stars in the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, has continued to lend her fame to the cause, recently hosting the Human Rights Campaign's Los Angeles Gala and Hero Awards. In May, she'll perform at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, making her the first openly gay person to headline the 89-year-old ceremony.
19. RICH ROSS
With its progressive attitude toward same-sex couples (the Walt Disney Company was among the first corporations to extend domestic-partner benefits to gays), it's no surprise that Ross could rise to be president of Disney Channels Worldwide. As the maestro behind tween royalty Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers, he was the natural go-to guy for Michelle Obama when she hosted the "Kids' Inaugural: We Are the Future" bash in January. Ross's latest venture, Disney XD, aims to do for teen boys what Hannah Montana et al have done for girls. If initial figures are anything to go by -- signature show Aaron Stone (about a basketball-playing teen spy) drew 232,000 boys aged 6–14 in its first week -- he's got nothing to worry about.
3. ANDERSON COOPER
Mum is still the official word on his sexuality, but Cooper (left) is willing to weigh in on just about anything else. Whether he’s delivering daily commentary on Anderson Cooper 360 (his CNN newsmagazine), swimming with Michael Phelps as a correspondent for 60 Minutes, throwing himself into the front lines for his on-going series Planet in Peril, or confessing his obsession with The Real Housewives of Atlanta as a substitute co-host on Live With Regis and Kelly, he remains unavoidable. And during election season, there was no one we loved watching returns with more than Coop.
50. URVASHI VAID
One of the stalwarts of the LGBT movement (former executive director of the NGLTF) and of the nonprofit and activist world (former positions at the ACLU and Ford Foundation), Vaid is currently executive director of the Arcus Foundation, whose mission is "to achieve social justice that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity, and race, and to ensure conservation and respect of the great apes." The foundation gives more than any other grant-maker to charities that advance gay rights. Vaid has been partnered for 20 years with comic and writer Kate Clinton, who has said, "my gal pal and I recently reconfirmed our own vows not to marry. We do, however, vigorously support the freedom of others to marry.
34. NICK DENTION
Gawker Media founder and chief executive Denton is "as smart and blunt as his blogs," says one media writer. Blunt indeed -- he recently predicted that the current economic crisis could lead to a 40% decline in the online ad market. He's sold off several sites while folding others into Gawker, reducing staff along the way but increasing his bottom line. While Gawker is not quite the first read of the day for media types anymore, don't underestimate Denton's ability to keep pulling those rabbits out of his hat.
18. SCOTT RUDIN
Currently listed as a producer or executive producer of 38 films in various stages of development, the heaviest of Hollywood heavyweights continues to keep his finger in a number of pies (even as his waistline diminishes). None of his eligible films (Revolutionary Road, Doubt, Stop-Loss, Towelhead) were nominated for a Best Picture Oscar this year, but by bringing together the best source material and Hollywood's finest screenwriters and directors, he made possible the six acting nominations those films received. This summer, look for Rudin's latest Meryl Streep–Amy Adams pairing, Julie & Julia, directed by Nora Ephron.
49. SIMON HALLS & STEPHEN HUVANE
The big wheels turning PR mega-firm PMK/HBH continue to shape the images of Hollywood's upper echelon, but now without the agency's co-founder, PR diva Pat Kingsley, who left in February. Halls has been serving as co-CEO since September 2007, and along with managing partner Huvane and crew, PMK/HBH represents the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Julianne Moore, Uma Thurman, Neil Patrick Harris, and Anne Hathaway, as well as films, TV shows, and corporate brands like AOL and Motorola.
33. MARTHA NELSON
These days, simply surviving in the turbulent media world is an achievement, and Martha Nelson has done more than that: She moved from editor of Time Inc.'s People Group to head up its entertainment division. Still, when parent company Time Warner reports a loss of $13.4 billion for 2008 and lays off 600 employees (6% of its workforce), it's not exactly a shining mainstream media moment.
17. JANN WENNER
When Rolling Stone's multimillionaire co-founder, publisher, and editor watched his award-winning biweekly shrink to a standard, newsstand-friendly format last October, he coolly told The New York Times, "All you're getting from that large size is nostalgia." Though its readership is stronger than ever (the mag's paid circulation is more than 1.4 million -- its highest in history), RS wasn't impervious to the recent economic downturn: Its ad pages in the first half of 2008 were down 33% from 2005.
48. JIM NELSON
GQ's Jim Nelson might not be the most visible editor in chief in the Condé Nast nest -- Graydon Carter and Anna Wintour have that honor -- but his formula of alternating naked women with men in suits on his covers has somewhat protected his magazine from that company's recent downsizing. That said, his biggest coup -- Jennifer Aniston, nude on January 2009's cover -- isn't exactly the high-profile, game-changing journalism of GQ's peak and as page counts shrink, so does Nelson's sphere of influence.
32. CHRIS HUGHES
Not only is the 25-year old Harvard grad a cocreator of one of the most triumphant starups in recent history -- a little marvel called Facebook -- he also helped Obama land in the White House. Hughes left Facebook in February 2007 to serve as director of online organizing for Obama and launch My.BarackObama.com (orMyBO), allowing supporters to form groups, raise funds, and plan events online. At the close of the campaign, volunteers had produced more than 2 million profiles and generated $30 million on 70,000 personal find-raising pages. Meanwhile, Hughes's Vote for Change site registered a million people to vote.
16. JARED POLIS
Congressman "Call me Jared" Polis (center) is the first out gay man to be elected to the House. (All the others came out only after they'd served; Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin was the first non-incumbent gay person of either sex to be elected.) Sexuality was not really an issue in Polis's Colorado district, which includes gay-friendly Boulder, where Polis built a multi-million dollar fortune through websites such as greeting card spot BlueMountain.com. But he created a small firestorm when he sounded almost gleeful that new media had killed the Rocky Mountain News; within a couple of days he acknowledged that 200 lost jobs was no cause for joy. Welcome to politics, Jared.
47. GREG BERLANTI
2008 was not the year of Greg Berlanti, who was bumped from directing Green Lantern, and saw his Dirty Sexy Money and Eli Stone cancelled. However Brothers & Sisters, his award-winning ABC juggernaut, is still going strong and one hit a hitmaker still makes. Last summer he renewed his contract with ABC Studios (where he is their most prolific writing producer) for five more years and a rumored eight figures.
31. JEREMY BERNARD & RUFUS GIFFORD
These business and life partners spent much of the last two years at their consultancy firm, B&G Associates, raising tens of millions of dollars in California to get President Obama elected. This year they're movin' on up: Bernard was appointed White House liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Gifford became the new finance director for the Democratic National Committee.
15. MARC JACOBS
His company may have forked over $1 million to settle a bribery case last November, but isn't that toy money when you're at the helm of a multibillion-dollar business spanning nearly all major fashion markets and you've recently been called "the only American fashion designer who matters"? As famous as the A-listers who flaunt his designs (he's been profiled in countless publications and posed for the cover of Out), Jacobs was the big hit at February's Fashion Week, where his Stephen Sprouse–influenced fall 2009 collection received stellar reviews. Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton (where Jacobs is creative director) seems resilient in the economic recession: LVMH's total revenue was up 4% in 2008.
46. HILARY ROSEN
A longtime Washington insider, Rosen has always straddled the worlds of politics and entertainment throughout her career. The former chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), she was the official face of the industry's interests as music was going digital. Since leaving the organization in 2003, she has said, "I was impatient with the pace of the industry's embrace of online distribution of music." She's bounced back as a managing partner of the D.C. office of corporate communications partnership Brunswick Group LLC, and in her spare time, she's editor at large for the Huffington Post and a CNN political contributor.
30. BRIAN GRADEN
As president of entertainment for MTV Networks Music Group (which includes MTV, MTV2, VH1, and CMT), Graden remains a leading tastemaker. But a 23% drop in its core 12- to 34-year-old demographic group led the network to make major changes in its programming lineup. From the folks who pioneered reality TV with The Real World comes… more reality TV. But with a difference: "Our new shows will feature themes of affirmation and accomplishment," Graden told Variety. That could be a refreshing change from the usual kill-the-competition flavor of the genre -- and enough to make it the brand of choice for a new generation.
14. GUS VAN SANT
The biopic and the tale of the ill-fated gay hero -- two Hollywood clichés Van Sant breathed new life into in 2008 when he teamed with screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and a sterling A-list cast, including Academy Award winner Sean Penn and Josh Brolin, to direct Milk. Though shut out at the Golden Globes, it garnered excellent reviews, snagged two Academy Awards, and thrust the director back into the public eye. All this at a time when the struggle for gay rights has never been more critical.
45. TIM GUNN
Yes, Tim's still making it work, though no one seems to know just when we'll see the latest season of Project Runway -- it's in legal limbo -- and Bravo has yet to green-light a third season of Tim Gunn's Guide to Style. Meanwhile, he's holding on to his day job as chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne, and he managed to secure a red carpet interview with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at this year's Oscars, where he served as co-host of ABC's official preshow.
29. MICHAEL PATRICK KING
After his pop-culture juggernaut Sex and the City wrapped in 2004, the Emmy-winning writer-director-producer fell off the radar (his 2005 HBO follow-up, The Comeback, was shelved after a single season). When he threw Carrie Bradshaw & Co. onto the silver screen in May 2008, however, King proved that despite a lukewarm critical response, he still has rabid SATC fans on his side. The movie raked in $401 million worldwide, grossing $57 million its first weekend alone -- the highest-earning opening ever for an R-rated comedy, romantic comedy, and TV adaptation. He is currently at work on the film's sequel.
13. THE NEW YORK TIMES GAY MAFIA
(Richard Berke, Ben Brantley, Frank Bruni, Stuart Elliot, Patrick Healy, Adam Nagourney, Horacio Silva, Stefano Tonchi, Guy Trebay, Eric Wilson) In spite of its growing financial woes, the Times remains the most influential newspaper in the world, all the more so now that we have an administration in D.C. more likely to heed the paper's opinions. Collectively these 10 writers reflect the paper's broad and eclectic range, from food (Bruni), theater (Brantley and Healy), and style (Wilson, Tonchi, Trebay) to politics (Nagourney) and advertising (Elliot). Still, the economy has not been kind to the Gray Lady, which recently announced that its hyper-stylized T magazine would be cut to 12 issues a year from 15, amid continuing chatter about the paper's long-term survival.
44. JASON WU
The Taiwan-born, New York -- based designer started 2009 relatively unknown outside the world of haute couture. But after Michelle Obama wore one of his creations to the inaugural balls, the 26-year-old Wu became a household name. As Mrs. Obama's anointed sartorial son, he's already being compared to Oscar de la Renta, the über-influential designer (and Bush favorite) 50 years his senior. Only months into the administration, Wu's buzz is deafening -- his fall 2009 line (which hasn't even been unveiled yet) has already sold out.
28. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS
Named one of last year's Entertainers of the Year by Entertainment Weekly, Out cover guy Harris could do no wrong wherever he showed up -- owning every scene on How I Met Your Mother (for which he's been nominated for two Emmys and a Golden Globe), on the big screen in Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, and headlining Joss Whedon's internet event of 2008, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, a series that got 1,000 hits per second when it debuted and earned more than $2 million on iTunes in a few weeks. This summer, Harris returns to the stage, starring in L.A. Theatre Works' production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
12. FRED HOCHBERG
OK, so he was a leading fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton and acting administrator of the Small Business Administration for that other Clinton. That didn't stop the new president from naming Hochberg director of the Export-Import Bank, making him -- need we say it -- the first gay head of that institution.
43. PEREZ HILTON
The popular blogger, who deemed himself "queen of all media," may have spoken a bit too soon. While he still appears regularly on Extra and released his book, Red Carpet Suicide, in January, Hilton's penis doodles and catty commentary were eclipsed in 2008 by not only, um, an election, but also blog rivals like TMZ.com. Hilton no longer has MTV's defunct Total Request Live as a dishing outlet, and Time, which ranked him among the most influential people chosen by readers in 2007, just named PerezHilton.com one of the Most Overrated Blogs of 2009. His championing of musicians like Mika and Beth Ditto, however, remains a welcome public service.
27. CHRISTINE QUINN
When last we saw our heroine, speaker of the New York City Council, the conventional wisdom was that this was her year to make a run for mayor. But after Wall Street and the national economy imploded last fall, incumbent mayor Michael Bloomberg successfully pushed the City Council to overturn the city's term limits rule, making him a shoo-in for another four years. Somehow we just know 2013 is going to be Quinn's year.
11. TAMMY BALDWIN
As the first openly gay woman elected to the House of Representatives, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) has been a longtime champion for gay rights. In June 2008, along with Congressman Barney Frank (No. 1), she co-founded the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, and she has introduced numerous bills promoting domestic partnership rights, the enforcement of federal hate-crimes legislation, and stronger protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
42. ROSIE O'DONNELL
We'll admit it: The world is quieter, and maybe even a bit more boring, without daily updates from the mouth of Rosie. (She's even abandoned her blog, at least for the time being.) And though her variety show, Rosie Live, was canceled after one episode, she scored a hit with her Lifetime movie, America, a drama about a foster child. Love her or hate her, give the lady credit: When it comes to advocating for kids, there's no one with a bigger heart -- or more power to enlighten.
26. BRIAN LOURD & KEVIN HUVANE
As the agents of virtually all of Hollywood's A-list, Creative Artists Agency partners Lourd and Huvane continue to be the machers of Hollywood, with $300 million worth of business annually. Out of this year's Oscar nominees, CAA represents best actor Sean Penn and best screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, as well as best actress Kate Winslet and best supporting actress Penélope Cruz.
10. DAVID GEFFEN
One of the few moguls who has managed to get richer against the prevailing trend (Forbes ranked his personal fortune at $6.5 billion last year), Geffen’s talent for deal-making powered the spectacular rise of mega-studio DreamWorks. His departure from the studio last year, after engineering a deal in which he and his partners Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg severed their relationship with Viacom, has industry watchers speculating on what he might do next. He could take the Bill Gates route and focus on his philanthropy.
41. NATE BERKUS
Eight years after his first appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Berkus has successfully become a television personality in his own right, continuing to appear on Oprah and hosting The Nate Berkus Show for Sirius radio and Oprah’s Big Give on ABC. Last year, he launched his home furniture and accessories collection for the Home Shopping Network, a line of more than 100 products.
25. DUSTIN LANCE BLACK
He's served as a writer and executive story editor for HBO's Big Love for three years, but it was only after penning the screenplay for Milk that the 34-year-old screenwriter, director, producer, and activist was catapulted into the spotlight. The Harvey Milk biopic couldn't have hit theaters at a more relevant time -- just after California voters approved Proposition 8 -- but Black's storytelling spoke for itself, earning him an Oscar and a Writers Guild of America award for best original screenplay. His new film, Pedro, about the AIDS activist and Real World personality Pedro Zamora, aired on MTV in April, and Gus Van Sant is already set to direct his film adaptation of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
9. JOE SOLMONESE
The Human Rights Campaign president continued to field criticism in 2008 from gay rights activists protesting the organization for backing down on employment protection for transgender employees. But with the recent announcement of an Obama-Biden plan that advocates inclusive hate-crime and employment-discrimination protections, repeal of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act and "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, and a more focused response to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic, Solmonese and the HRC are now courting the most pro-gay White House leadership in U.S. history.
40. NANCY SUTLEY
Serving as Los Angeles's deputy mayor for energy and environment, Sutley was a driving force in an initiative to make it "the greenest big city in America." Her responsibility increased tremendously in January, however, when Obama appointed her to chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality, making Sutley (a former Hillary Clinton supporter) the principal environmental policy adviser to the president -- and the first prominent gay person to earn a senior role in his new administration.
24. ANDREW TOBIAS
As Democratic National Committee treasurer since 1999, financial writer Andrew Tobias may have done his job a little too well. Last year, Tobias was the go-to money man of nearly every candidate on the ticket. And, though he hardly needs to sell off his complete collection of original Wizard of Oz munchkin autographs now that the convention has come and gone and the Democratic hordes have stormed the gates of power, Tobias's cachet has, perversely, fallen. That is, of course, until 2012, when the fundraising lion returns.
8. BARRY DILLER
From his multimillion dollar Frank Gehry–designed headquarters across the street from Chelsea Piers, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say 67-year-old media mogul Barry Diller rules the Internet. His company, IAC/InterActiveCorp, owns Tina Brown’s the Daily Beast, College Humor, Dictionary.com, Ask.com, and Match.com. Diller, who inexplicably married Diane Von Furstenberg in 2001, has a long list of high-powered boyfriends. His personal fortune, estimated at $1 billion, has earned him a reputation as the godfather of the velvet mafia, which includes his close friends Calvin Klein and David Geffen.
39. RON HUBERMAN
Succeeding President Obama's new secretary of education, Arne Duncan, Huberman was appointed CEO of the Chicago Public Schools in January, which puts him in charge of more than 600 schools and 400,000 students. The Israeli-born, University of Chicago–educated Huberman first came out to his family when he was 15 and served in the Chicago Police Department for nine years. He then worked as Mayor Richard Daley's chief of staff for two years before he was appointed head of the Chicago Transit Authority in 2007.
23. ANDREW SULLIVAN
Eight years after voting for Bush in the 2000 election, Andrew Sullivan endorsed Barack Obama and, after his election, said that his first problem would be to deal with his predecessor's "legacy of criminal actions" (i.e., war crimes). What a difference a decade makes. We're looking forward to seeing how the blogger/author/talking head analyzes this new world abornin'.
7. GENE ROBINSON
Baptized Vicky Gene (his parents had been hoping for a girl), Bishop V. Gene Robinson has been a lightning rod in the debate over the church and homosexuality ever since his consecration in 2003. But while the 77 million -- member Anglican church of which Robinson is a member remains deeply conflicted over the issue, his series of meetings with Barack Obama in the run-up to last year’s election was a powerful signal of the new administration’s inclusiveness. A late invitation to Robinson to deliver prayers for Obama on the Sunday before the inauguration was designed to mollify critics of evangelical minister Rick Warren -- chosen to deliver the invocation -- but was welcome nonetheless.
38. TOM FORD
In a sartorial and financial climate in which "swagger" has become a dirty word, designer Tom Ford loves to talk dirty. His fashion line -- available at his Madison Avenue boutique, a new wood-paneled department at Bergdorf Goodman, and wherever men and money meet -- translates the Texan's Marlboro-meets-Marylebone visions of masculinity into beautifully crafted suits and musky scents. After conditioning the buying public to associate a man's crotch and a woman's breasts -- two of the most trenchant images in our culture -- with his products, Ford has a right to swagger, but he's not done yet. In 2008, Ford added director to his résumé. His film, A Single Man, based on the Christopher Isherwood novel and starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, is set to debut this year.
22. SUZE ORMAN
Personal finance guru Orman came out publicly in The New York Times two years ago, but with the economy now on life support we need her more than ever. And we particularly liked that her TV show's Valentine's Day message was that California's Prop 8 is "taking away a birthright." These days Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan, along with the advice she gives on The Oprah Winfrey Show and on her website, have made her the go-to gal for clearheaded thoughts about money.
6. MATT DRUDGE
Matt Drudge -- the archly conservative 42-year-old owner of the right wing news–aggregating site Drudge Report—also happens to love Chaka Khan, The Young and the Restless, and sex with men. Though he often plays coy about his homosexuality -- "I go to straight bars. I go to gay bars," he once said -- he had a long-term relationship with a male landscaper. The power of Drudge is formidable; he reports that his site averages 20 million page views a day. Unfortunately, his agenda is often antigay, anti-choice, and anti-tolerance. No one said power was always used for good.
37. ADAM MOSS
Adam Moss's only real problem is that he set the bar too high for himself when New York magazine won five National Magazine Awards in 2007 and "only" one last year. Still, in a year when consumer magazine ad pages dropped almost 12%, New York's editor in chief might think that a 6.3% fall doesn't look so bad. The magazine, and its increasingly vibrant website, remain must-reads for I-knew-it-five-minutes-ago New Yorkers, and some of its covers (Bernard Madoff as the Joker) could become new classics.
21. ANTHONY ROMERO
Under the leadership of Romero, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit to nullify California's gay-marriage ban and recently launched the largest fundraising campaign in its 89-year history, aiming to expand its work against social injustice to heartland states like Texas and Florida. As executive director, Romero has proved to be a divisive head, but the ACLU's membership has nearly doubled since his appointment in 2001, and this new campaign has already raised $258 million of its $335 million goal through behind-the-scenes solicitations.
5. TIM GILL
One of gay America's most openhanded "Super Friends" -- as Time magazine recently termed the gang of wealthy gay men spending boatloads of money on LGBT rights -- the founder of software behemoth Quark Inc. continued his magnanimous streak in 2008, pumping $720,000 into the No on Prop. 8 campaign. Some sources say the Denver magnate (net worth $425 million) may also be the largest single donor to the Log Cabin Republicans: His Gill Action Fund’s contributions in 2008 made up $250,000 of Log Cabin’s $750,000 budget.
36. JODIE FOSTER
There's not much doing in the life of Jodie Foster these days. But as the highest-paid openly lesbian actor in Hollywood -- she got $15 million for her role in The Brave One -- she's got a lot of sway. Oh, and then there's her upcoming biopic of Nazi filmographer Leni Riefenstahl (status still unknown), which might do for Foster what The Reader did for Kate Winslet.
20. PETER THIEL
Since predicting in 2004 that the financial bubble would burst shortly after the housing bubble, the PayPal founder, Facebook principal, and head of multibillion-dollar hedge fund Clarium Capital Management LLC, has been shorting the U.S. dollar to better returns than most. Clarium was only down about 5% in 2008, but it suffered its biggest-ever monthly loss last October. And Facebook's failed bid to purchase Twitter in November for $500 million was largely attributed to their inability to produce a reliable valuation of Facebook's worth. All said, Thiel may be slightly down, but he's by no means out (at least, financially) -- at age 41, with a personal wealth valued at $1.3 billion, he's the ninth youngest American and highest ranking openly gay man on the Forbes 400.
4. RACHEL MADDOW
Few could have predicted the rapid ascent of Rachel Maddow, a former Air America radio host, when she was gifted her own show by scrappy cable network MSNBC last fall. The channel quickly scored record ratings in Maddow’s 9 p.m. slot, doubling the audience figures of a year previous. It helped that we were in the midst of one of the most-watched elections in history, but the fact that the first openly gay host of a prime-time news show continues to best ratings for CNN veteran Larry King is a powerful reflection of shifting tides.
Currently writing a book about the influence of politics on the U.S. military, Maddow and her partner, artist Susan Mikula, live a low-key life in rural western Massachusetts where -- she told one reporter -- "people care about whether you have shoveled out your mailbox, and people don't really care whether you are beating Hannity."
2. ELLEN DEGENERES
Showing no signs of slowing down, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which has earned the Emmy for outstanding daytime talk show host for the past four years, is in its sixth and highest-rated season.
In the past year, DeGeneres has succeeded in reaching the not-always-LGBT-friendly middle American demographic on topics like hate crime legislation, and she’s put a relatable face on the issue of gay marriage, as she chronicled her own to actress Portia de Rossi.
She also forced presidential candidates John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama to explain their stances on marriage equality better than any official debate did. And in January, the American Express pitchwoman signed her first beauty advertising campaign, for CoverGirl, just before her 51st birthday.
1. BARNEY FRANK
We can’t wait to read Barney Frank: The Story of America’s Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman when it comes out this fall, but we suspect we’ll be hearing a lot from the 69-year-old head of the House Financial Services Committee. It was a power center when he became chairman in January 2007—and will be the scene of some of the most heated public policy battles in the coming months. With the Democrats in power, Frank takes the number one spot on our list. We know he can handle the pressure: It’s been said that he “speaks 100 words a minute with gusts to 125.”