American politics is becoming increasingly polarized. Just turn on the radio or TV, browse news sites or read the paper, and you’ll notice this great ideological divide, which is especially apparent in an election year. It’s red versus blue, conservatives against liberals, and given the tone of some of the rhetoric, there seems to be no middle ground. The two “sides” love to criticize each other, and this hostility is fueled by inflammatory comments made by talk show hosts, political commentators, entertainers, and politicians. On either side of the debate are some outspoken and powerful individuals particularly despised by the “opposition.” Following are 10 liberals that conservatives love to hate. (Here’s a link to a similar Listosaur story, 10 Conservatives That Liberals Love to Hate.)
10. George Soros
Conservatives not only hate “left-wing” billionaire investor George Soros, they openly fear him. He was named the No. 1 Most Dangerous Liberal in America by the conservative magazine Townhall, and denounced in a reader survey by the website HumanEvents.com as “the single most destructive leftist demagogue in the country.” His contributions to left-wing causes, political influence, financial backing of Media Matters and MoveOn.org, and his efforts to defeat President George W. Bush and other Republican politicians, have all earned him the contempt of the right. He doesn’t rate any higher on this list, however, because he’s unknown to many conservatives.
9. Alec Baldwin
Conservatives dislike many outspoken left-wing Hollywood stars, but Alec Baldwin is particularly despised, landing him on this list ahead of such well-known progressive entertainers as Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon. Baldwin is known for his heated Twitter rants against Republicans and conservatives, whom he has referred to as “dumb*ss hillbillies,” and “gun-loving, war-mongering trolls.” In Baldwin’s defense, part of the conservative vitriol against him stems from a quote misattributed to him in 2000. Baldwin was erroneously quoted as saying he would leave the country if George W. Bush won the presidency, prompting offers from angry conservatives to help him pack.
8. Keith Olbermann
Keith Olbermann made a name for himself as an outspoken liberal commentator on MSNBC, harshly criticizing Republicans and right-wing policies. His views and comments made him a target of conservative talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Much to the delight of his conservative critics, Olbermann was suspended from MSNBC in January 2011 for making political donations, and then in early 2012 he was fired from Al Gore’s network, Current TV. Given Olbermann’s high profile and ability to draw an audience, he’ll find other opportunities to keep annoying conservatives.
7. Bill Maher
The sharp-tongued comedian and host of HBO’s Real Time (and before that, ABC’s Politically Incorrect) is well known for his scornful (and sometimes humorous) rants and Tweets against Republicans and conservatives. Most recently, Maher incited outrage for a Tweet about Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow that many conservatives branded as blasphemous. It wasn’t the first time Maher has riled religious conservatives; Maher is a self-proclaimed atheist, and produced the 2008 documentary, Religulous, that mocked organized religion. Maher has also been criticized for his verbal attacks on conservative women, in particular Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.
6. Al Gore
The former vice president, Nobel laureate, and presidential candidate is reviled primarily for his stance on global warming, and his contention that humans are the main cause, a scenario most conservatives vehemently deny. They also accuse Gore of being a hypocrite for asking others to conserve energy while he lives in a mansion and flies on a private jet. Gore won an Academy Award for his 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, further incensing the right, who also mock him for allegedly saying he “invented the Internet.”
5. Rev. Al Sharpton
The well-known civil rights leader and activist is a controversial public figure and systematically hated by conservatives, who think he is an opportunist and a publicity hound, especially since he started hosting MSNBC’s weeknight show PoliticsNation. Sharpton has been harshly criticized for his inflammatory sermons through the years, and accused of inciting racial unrest. Some of that criticism has come from progressives. In March 2012, former NAACP president C.L. Bryant told CNN’s Roland Martin that whenever a racially charged case arises, “two faces will show up in order to heighten the tension,” referring to Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
4. Nancy Pelosi
A liberal from San Francisco — in the conservative playbook, that is two strikes against her already — Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House in 2007. She quickly earned the ire of conservatives by moving President Obama’s stimulus bill through the House and helping pass the Health Care Reform Act. Conservative attacks on Pelosi have been personal and vicious, targeting not just her ideology, but her gender and appearance. The GOP created a “Fire Pelosi 2010 Bus Tour,” she was depicted as the Wicked Witch of the West by a Republican challenger, and Rush Limbaugh made a derogatory comment about Pelosi’s “looks keeping birthrates down.”
3. President Bill Clinton
Mention the name Bill Clinton in a roomful of conservatives, and most of them will start spouting their disdain for the former president, even though he’s been out of office since 2001. Of course, the most vicious criticism centers around the sex scandal with Monica Lewinsky, but conservatives hate him … well, just because he’s Bill Clinton.
2. Michael Moore
Filmmaker Michael Moore makes our No. 2 spot because he stands for everything conservatives despise and because he’s won critical acclaim for his hard-hitting, politically charged movies and books. The content in documentaries such as Bowling for Columbine, Sicko and Capitalism: A Love Story, strike at the very core of conservative values. His critics love to point out what they call Moore’s hypocrisy in benefiting from the capitalist system he so zealously vilifies, enjoying the lifestyle of the top 1 percent after making millions off his films.
1. President Barack Obama
It goes without saying that conservatives are going to dislike any president with liberal values, but the vitriolic criticism of President Obama has been far more extreme than that faced by any previous Democratic president. He’s been accused of being a “socialist,” an elitist, an imposter who wasn’t even born in the United States, and a secretly radical Muslim. Some on the right even think Obama is the antichrist. His 2010 Health Care Reform Bill incensed conservatives who dubbed it “Obamacare,” and earned him the wrath of the Tea Party movement.