Vladimir Putin, 10th Most Admired Man In America — Ahead Of Joe Biden, The Dalai Lama & Bono
For all his high-profile masculinity and bravado, Russia's eminent leader hasn't quite garnered the same veneration in the U.S. as he has in his homeland. But an annual Gallup poll surveying the living men and women that Americans looked up to the most might have found otherwise, ranking Putin the 10th Most Admired Man in America, ahead of some pretty boss people like Vice President Joe Biden, the Dalai Lama, and former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. The shirtless horse-riding chieftain also beat out George Clooney and Bono. President Obama, for his part, topped the list for the seventh time in a row.
Putin's 10th place on the list — shared with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — is somewhat peculiar, as his Ukrainian exploits this year have been less-than-well received by both American politicians and in the media. American news outlets have painted Putin as a villainous invader of a sovereign country, and his strapping, virile image has often been perceived with a faint tinge of derision. That's not to say that it's entirely undeserved, as any overt display of masculinity is pretty ridiculous in itself — not to mention makes you wonder if he is overcompensating for something — but considering the bad press that Putin has received in the U.S., would it be too much to say that it is surprising he would even make the list?
Perhaps not. Over the decades, Putin has carefully constructed a particular image of himself to his fellow Russians, one that, despite a worsening economy due to Western sanctions (see: Ukrainian invasion), has witnessed an all-time high in his approval ratings. A machismo representation of himself as a leader,has clearly worked for him at home, so it might be presumptuous to say that Putin's appeal has not extended to the U.S.
I mean, let's be real here — who can resist a proud Putin kissing his massive catch of the day on the, uh, lips?
Or the man's deep adoration for animals?
How about his sweet martial arts moves — which also, impressively, include some hip-swaying?
Or, I don't know, the gallant draping of his coat over the shoulders of China's First Lady at an economic summit at Beijing this year?
Maybe his wielding this really big but somewhat plastic-looking gun will convince you?
Let's not forget that this is a man whose idea of a vacation is to swim in cold Siberian waters and sit in trees.
To be completely fair, the results of the Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews with a mere 805 adults across the country, and can, by no means, accurately represent the admirations of some 300 million other Americans. But perhaps Russia's bad press might have done him some good, as Gallup's managing editor, Jeffrey Jones, told Russell Berman at The Atlantic that Putin's prevalence in the media this year might have propelled his name somewhere to the forefront of respondents' minds.