When Barack Obama declared "We are the change we've been waiting for," the pundits scratched their heads. In retrospect, though, it seems as if That One was onto something. For better or worse, we're living through a moment of intense transformation. In politics, the Bush years have been dustbinned. As far as the economy goes, the heady days of hedge-fund excess have been reduced to burnt toast. And from a Madonna standpoint, the Guy Ritchie era has been swept away. "The Power 40" reflects this whiplash-inducing volatility. Many of the usual suspects have been replaced with an array of wild cards and agents of change. A home-wrecking home-run hitter? Check. Tech guys who have all of tweendom a-Twitter? Yup. Buddhists with bombs? Uh-huh. This year proved you can never be sure of what comes next (hell, Chinese Democracy finally showed up, didn't it?). The whole point of power, after all, is to keep 'em guessing.

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Bloomberg News /Landov

2. NEEL KASHKARI >>

4. BAITULLAH MEHSUD >>

5. THE PALIN BUNCH >>

*Todd, Track, and Trig Palin,

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© Ron Chapple Stock/Corbis

7. TOM CRUISE >>

8. BARACK'S BOYS >>

*David Plouffe, Campaign Manager,

9. THE GREENWASHERS >>

*David Jones, Euro RSCG,

Christopher Barger, GM,

10. FERNANDO SÁNCHEZ ARELLANO AND HERIBERTO LAZCANO >>

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Ahmad Elatab / Splash News

11. JOHN MAYER >>

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Getty Images

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AFP/Getty Images

14. RAJAT AND JAYANT AGARWALLA >>

15. MICHAEL RAPINO >>

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AFP/Getty Images

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Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

17. LARRY RUDOLPH >>

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AFP/Getty Images

18. EVAN WILLIAMS AND JACK DORSEY >>

19. ROBERT DOWNEY JR. >>

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Sian Kennedy

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Brent Humphreys/Redux

21. JOEL OSTEEN >>

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PhamousFotos / Splash News

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© Preston Mack / Disney Channel / Retna Ltd.

24. NICK JONAS >>

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Diamond Images/Getty Images

25. ALEX RODRIGUEZ >>

26. THE HACKTIVISTS >>

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Mario Villafuerte/Redux

27. BOBBY JINDAL >>

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Richie Buxo / Splash News

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Getty Images

29. LIL WAYNE>>

30. CHINESE DEMOCRACY >>

31. THE SPACE INVADERS >>

32. NATE SILVER >>

33. ANDREW STANTON >>

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Andrew Hetherington/Redux

34. ROCK BAND BROTHERS AND THE GUITAR HERO >>

*Kai Huang, CEO, RedOctane

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Steve Pyke/ContourPhotos.com

35. TOBIAS MEYER >>

36. THE COLD WARRIORS >>

*Mikheil Saakashvili, President, Georgia

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AlphaX/X17online.com

37. JUSTIN GASTON >>

38. R. KELLY >>

39. CLAY AIKEN >>

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2008 Regine Mahaux

40. THOMAS BEATIE >>

Mr. Mom

PLUS:

Don't miss our Power Tools list of 2008's biggest losers, including Brett Favre, Mario Lopez, and Joe the Plumber.

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