What do the pope, two presidents, two secretaries of state, several potential Republican presidential candidates, and a trio of politically ambitious billionaires have in common with Miley Cyrus?
No, they weren't all cast in a new reality TV series, sadly. But they were all named among the 100 most influential people in the world on Thursday by Time Magazine.
The list, released on an annual basis, is a rough sketch of the zeitgeist as it exists, an attempt to identify those people who have made a unique and compelling contribution to politics, business, entertainment or culture. The profiles of those featured are typically written by people who know or admire them.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has been named among Time's most influential several times before, was recognized again this year.
Pakistani educational activist Malala Yousafzai, a teenager who was shot by the Taliban in 2012 for her efforts to promote education for girls, praised Clinton's work empowering women across the globe.
"Hillary Clinton is a symbol of strength for women across the world. It was she who famously said, "Women's rights are human rights." She not only spoke those words, but also dedicated her life to empowering women around the world through politics and philanthropy," Malala wrote. "She has been a source of strength for many women leaders, including myself, my family and those who stood by me after I was attacked."
Clinton turned the tables to laud her successor, Secretary of State John Kerry, who also made the list.
"Diplomacy takes stamina, passion and perspective, and John embodies these traits. He is relentless in the face of the most persistent obstacles -- keeping alive the dream of peace in the Middle East, standing up to Russia's ongoing aggression in Ukraine, negotiating the removal of chemical weapons from Syria and signing an interim nuclear deal with Iran," she wrote. "I know from experience just how hard this is. There's nobody better suited to carry the cause forward than John Kerry."
The growing power of high-dollar political donors was also on display in Time's list this year, which named several billionaires on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum.
Hedge fund manager and environmentalist Tom Steyer, who has vowed to spend millions of dollars boosting candidates who support green energy, was praised by former Vice President Al Gore for his work to combat climate change.
"The most important solution to the climate crisis has long been obvious: put a price on global-warming pollution in markets," Gore wrote. "But the 'hacking' of American democracy by the biggest polluters has convinced many that we will first have to put a price on global-warming denial in politics... By rewarding candidates who favor action and opposing those who do not, [Steyer] has already changed the political dynamic."
Those "biggest polluters" that Gore mentions, the ones "hacking" American democracy? He's probably talking about Charles and David Koch, billionaire brothers and industrialists who control Koch Industries. Together, they've spent millions of dollars of their own money on behalf of conservative candidates and causes, generating considerable fear and loathing on the left in the process, and earning a spot on Time's "most influential" list.
The Koch brothers "care deeply about the values that make success in America possible -- free markets, freedom, limited government and competition," wrote Republican strategist Karl Rove. "This has led them to the political arena, where they give tens of millions and raise hundreds more to back candidates and causes. For this, they have been excoriated by the left, while the left remains hypocritically quiet when George Soros, Tom Steyer and other left-of-center rich spend to influence politics."
"The Kochs have answered abuse with courage, giving encouragement to others on the center-right to get into the fight," Rove continued. "Bless them for all they do and all the liberals they send into orbit."
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., also made the list, just as both men are believed to be considering presidential bids in 2016.
Paul's senior colleague from Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, praised the junior senator's "authenticity" and his work to expand the reach of the Republican Party.
"Any political party worth its salt is always on the lookout for converts. But no one in either party today brings the level of missionary zeal to the task that Rand Paul does," McConnell wrote. "From Berkeley, Calif., to Detroit, my Kentucky colleague has been cheerfully clearing a path for Republican ideals in the unlikeliest precincts."
And Walker's profile was written by Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J. -- himself a potential presidential candidate -- who praised the Wisconsin governor's attempt to rein in the power of organized labor.
"His battle to bring fairness to the taxpayers through commonsense reform of the public-sector collective-bargaining laws brought him scorn from the special interests and a recall election," Christie wrote. "Despite these threats, he stood tall. His reforms have brought tax reductions to his citizens and economic growth to his state. They have allowed public workers the freedom to choose whether to belong to a union. They have made Wisconsin a better place to live and work."
Pope Francis, who has recently completed a whirlwind first year as the head of the Catholic Church, also made the list this year. His profile was written by none other than President Obama, who called the new pontiff's "humble example" a "tonic for a cynical age."
"Rare is the leader who makes us want to be better people. Pope Francis is such a leader," Mr. Obama wrote. "His Holiness has moved us with his message of inclusion, especially for the poor, the marginalized and the outcast. But it has been his deeds, his bearing, the gestures at once simple and profound -- embracing the sick, ministering to the homeless, washing the feet of young prisoners -- that have inspired us all.
And Russian President Vladimir Putin, also on the list, was dissected by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who condemned Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.
"Through his illegal actions in Ukraine, Putin has reminded us that leaders of great countries are most dangerous when they make up their own facts. Putin's worldview is colored by toxic fictions," Albright wrote. "Putin's ultra-nationalistic instinct has upped his poll numbers, but his increased influence will be temporary. Russia has acquired territory but lost credibility. Putin has bought himself a pile of problems at the cost of the international ties Russia needs to prosper."