A young Iowa man's plea for marriage rights for his lesbian parents drew 18.3 million views to become the most-watched political video of the year, according to YouTube's ranking of viral political videos.
President Barack Obama's speech to the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in April was second on the list, while Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry's ad criticizing gays in the military placed third and was the year's most-watched campaign commercial.
YouTube, the popular video-sharing site, released its 2011 list Tuesday. The company based its rankings on videos uploaded by users to the site's news and politics category.
Rounding out the top five: Obama's announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden on May 1, and "Brother Can You Spare a Trillion?" by Florida Republican activist Blaise Ingoglia, warning of the mounting federal debt.
Together, the top 10 political videos drew about 50 million views from January to mid-December 2011.
To be sure, the political offerings were much less popular than those on YouTube's Top 10 overall list, which was also released Tuesday.
"Friday," Rebecca Black's sing-songy paean to the weekend, was the most-watched video of the year with nearly 180 million views, YouTube announced. Even "Cat Mom Hugs Baby Kitten," which placed 10th on the overall list, had a whopping 37 million views.
But Ramya Raghavan, news and politics manager for YouTube, said public interest in political videos was already strong and would grow more so as the 2012 presidential campaign intensifies.
"A roller-skating baby is always going to get a lot of views," Raghavan said. "But the audience is also showing a big appetite for political news and content, and there is so much more of this presidential race to go."
A hearing in the Iowa House Judiciary Committee over a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage last winter generated the most-viewed political video of the year.
Zach Wahls, a student at the University of Iowa, stood before the panel to describe growing up as the son of two women. A handsome Eagle Scout, Wahls described a childhood similar to that of other Iowa families.
"In my 19 years not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple," Wahls told the committee. "And you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character."
Iowa's state Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in April 2009. The proposed amendment would have revoked marriage rights.
The Iowa House passed the amendment despite Wahls' plea. But state Senate leaders decided against bringing up the matter, effectively killing it for the time being. Many gay rights activists credited the Wahls video for helping draw attention to the issue.
Obama appears twice on YouTube's list. His remarks at the April 30 correspondents' dinner, where he skewered real estate mogul Donald Trump for raising questions about his birth certificate, drew 9.1 million views.
Obama's speech announcing the U.S. mission that killed bin Laden came a day later, drawing 6.2 million views.
Campaign commercials for Perry, the Texas governor, appear twice on YouTube's list.
In "Stronger," which placed third on the political list, Perry vows action against Obama's "war on religion."
Perry says, "There's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in schools."
The ad drew 7 million views in less than two weeks. It also provoked controversy and sparked several parodies.
Perry's debut presidential campaign ad, "Proven Leadership," also made the list with 2.1 million views.
Other videos on YouTube's top 10: comedian Seth Myers' remarks to the White House Correspondents' Dinner; Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" appearing on Fox News Channel with host Bill O'Reilly; Herman Cain's campaign ad featuring his chief of staff, Mark Block, smoking a cigarette; and a mock Obama campaign ad produced by the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Follow Beth Fouhy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bfouhy
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