H.L. Mencken

U.S. National Archives and Records

In an obscure but sexually charged observation, H.L. Menken said—probably in a throaty whisper—that in a democracy “the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Indeed. We at Hottest Heads of State allowed the common people to have a say in our ranking of world leaders by hotness, and we got it good and hard. In grudging acknowledgment of your comments, we have revised our list. Before you begin poring over the changes and getting all wrapped around the axle about how we ranked people, we’d like to make a few points:

1. We ignored votes that were obviously based on political or nationalist sentiments rather than clear-eyed assessments of hotness. (See, for example, nearly every comment from the former Yugoslavia.) Ranking – or even inclusion – on this list does not signify anything other than how hot we think the person heading or figureheading the central government is.

2. Just because a leader’s numerical rank went down doesn’t mean we moved him or her down. We added a lot of people to the list – some because they were specifically requested, and some because we accidentally overlooked them before (sorry, Oman!) – and that tends to lower everyone’s number. It’s just like how I am with Sex in the City movies. If I end up liking the new Sex in the City movie even more than the first one, it doesn’t mean I like the first one any less. It just means the world is increasingly filled with hilarious and poignant Sex in the City movies.

3. We did our best to incorporate comments in languages other than English, but if we didn’t speak it and google couldn’t translate it clearly, there wasn’t much we could do. Except assume that it was a vote for Lukashenko to move up.

OK, enough with points. Below are some highlights from our list’s “great transformation,” as Karl Polanyi described it.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines.
So, apparently people in the Philippines really hate their prime minister. There was a certain amount of harsh speculation as to whether her breasts are natural. Sad stuff. Love the one you’re with, Philippines!

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus.
Although it was noted that Lukashenko “looks like Dr. Phil,” and he got a lot of negative comments overall, we’ve moved him up. Trying to vote Lukashenko down is like trying to force your way out of a Chinese finger trap. You people are just making it worse.

Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of Russia.
We had a poll devoted to Putin and “move him down” won, which is crazy. Closer to the truth is the comment we received from “shane,” who pounded his digital shoe on the lectern and declared “Putin should be in #2 by simple virtue of being the only real man on the whole list [!!!].” But we moved him down anyhow. This is what the shackles of modernity and bourgeois democracy do to real men.

Borut Pahor, Prime Minister of Slovenia.
I just can’t stop talking about the former Yugoslavia. In this case, the part of it where despite having lived under communism for decades, everyone is richer than me. Pahor received unanimous acclaim, and moves up.

Rafiq Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon.
I’m glad that Hariri got a few “up” votes, because it gives me an opportunity to do one of my very favorite things: casually mention having been to Lebanon. What? Why yes, I’ve spent time in Lebanon! You may have seen a fictionalized version of my time there in the movie “Navy SEALS,” in which I am played by both Charlie Sheen and Bill Paxton. In celebration of my having been to Lebanon, we’re moving Hariri up.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel.
It doesn’t exactly celebrate my having been to Lebanon, except that he’s probably been there too. But Netanyahu deserves to move up if only because we have such an unattractive photo of him on our website, and he got “up” votes anyhow.

Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.
Manning’s votes were a tie and we’re not moving him, but I’m mentioning him because one commentator gushed that “Patrick Manning is so hot it’s frying his brain!” This may not recommend him as a prime minister, but it’s a great pick-up line if you’re ever hitting on Patrick Manning.

Johanna Sigurdsdottir, Prime Minister of Iceland.
Sigurdsdottir got unanimous “up” votes, but we’re keeping her where she is. To be blunt: we were too kind in choosing a photo. Kate has a soft spot for her because her dad is named Sigur and she’s always thought of herself as a “sigurdsdottir,” so we used Sigurdsdottir’s high school yearbook photo instead of a more current picture. But seriously, google her. She’s right where she belongs.

Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.
McAleese got some plus votes, and upon further reflection we agree and we’ve moved her up. Also, we wanted to throw Ireland a bone, since a few apparently self-hating Irishmen urged us to add Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowan to the list, and helpfully provided some truly stunning photos of him.

Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy.
I truly appreciated the hilarious comments we got from Italians. But we spent some time looking at photos of Berlusconi, and we think he’s a good looking guy. Plus, dozens of teenage girls and hookers can’t be wrong.

Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Brown moved up because of the scene in Love Actually where he drives around with his bodyguard knocking on doors trying to find his assistant so he can profess his love to her even though she kissed the American president, which is very romantic.

Bashar Asad, President of Syria.
Bashar Asad got three comments in favor of moving him up, but one of them was more than enough to win us over all by itself: “he is really hot his body and red eyes are better than most of presidents in the world.” Any leader with red eyes gets to move up on our list.

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany.
Merkel got a few plus votes, but we’re moving her up because of this ad, which was – incredibly and stupidly – circulated by her opponent.

Hu Jintao, President of China.
Hu Jintao moves up because our website is blocked in China and we’re trying to curry favor with Beijing.

Hamad Bin Khalifa, Emir of Qatar.
Hamad didn’t get any votes up or down, but it was pointed out that he looks like Wario, which is true and worth mentioning.

Pope Benedict XVI, Sovereign of Vatican City.
We didn’t move the Pope because we already had a poll on the question of “who should be last” and he was deemed to be where he belonged. But we received a comment in his favor that literally makes me want to get up and dance. Here it is: “Push up the Pope! Push up the Pope! He’s sexier than he seems!” I feel like I have it stuck in my head even though it’s not set to a tune.

Muammar al-Gaddafi, Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution of Libya.
So, forget what I just said. Yes, we had a poll on who should be last, but we had forgotten to include Colonel Gaddafi. Now that we’ve added him, we think he’s a solid contender for last place (or more charitably, 216th runner-up). I want to emphasize that we’re not ranking him last because we don’t like him, but only because we think that he’s the least hot. Which is surprising, because he started off looking like this…but that’s what’s wrong with dictatorship as a form of government. It encourages leaders to stay in office well past their prime. “Smart lad, to slip betimes away, From fields where glory does not stay,” Gaddafi!

Finally, I’ll close by responding to some comments that were phrased in the form of a question, or at least sort of vaguely resemble a question.

“How can it be: Ahamdinejad is 48; hotter than Bashar al-asad!! I think the rater was drunk.”

Answer: Yes.

Question: “Is this list ageist?”

Answer: Yes, absolutely.

Question: “Your list is so detailed I suspect you are some kind of fetish/perv of some sort.”

Answer: Yes, absolutely.