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Decade's Top 10 most overhyped stories

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro and Mark Murray
What
follows are what we consider to be the Top 10 stories that were
overhyped -- or got more attention than they deserved. Agree? Disagree?
Please share your thoughts.

1. WMD/Iraq as an imminent threat: There was an incredible P.R. effort by the Bush
administration in its run-up to the Iraq war. The center of its case
was the existence of "weapons of mass destruction" -- a stockpile kept
by Saddam Hussein that could be used against the United States. But no
WMD was found.

2. Joe the Plumber: What a ridiculous story. His name wasn't Joe, and he wasn't a plumber. Yet John McCain said his name 20 times in the last presidential debate with Barack Obama (who wound up saying it five times himself in that debate).

3. Rudy Giuliani/Fred Thompson (tie): The most overhyped presidential candidates in history? Perhaps. Despite national poll leads, Rudy Giuliani fizzled,
as he didn't campaign in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina.
He waited until Florida, but by then the momentum had passed him by. In
the end, he had spent $58 million and won just one delegate. Meanwhile,
Fred Thompson got Newsweek cover love, but his only mark in the campaign was splitting the conservative vote with Mike Huckabee in South Carolina, giving the state to his friend, McCain.

4. The public option: As we've
said before, the words "public option" or "public plan" weren't uttered
in any major 2008 campaign speech, TV ad, or debate. Yet, the next
year, it became THE liberal obsession in the health-care debate --
despite the relatively few people who could even be covered by it,
according to the Congressional Budget Office.

5. Color-coded DHS terror-threat alerts:
Wow. Remember those? Nothing struck fear in the hearts of everyday
Americans more than the Bush administration's continued pronouncements
of what color that day was.

6. The Obama-Clinton battle over mandates: About the only policy difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was this one on health care. Did it matter? As it turned out, Obama reneged on his promise to not enact mandates and has since pushed for them -- which is exactly what Clinton's policy team was arguing in the first place.

7. Those PUMAs: That Democrats wouldn't come together after the contentious Obama-Clinton primary was a cable-crack story for the ages. And the people in the spotlight were the Clinton-supporting PUMAs (standing for "Party Unity, My Ass"). In the end, however, Obama carried 89% of Democrats (the same percentage John Kerry won in '04), and he won the general election in a near landslide.

8. Bill Ayers: Yes, he was friendly with Obama, but this particular blame-by-association game went too far. As Obama himself said during the campaign, he was only 8 years old when Ayers' Weathermen group was active.

9. Al Gore endorsing Howard Dean: The ultimate example of an endorsement that didn't exactly work out? At the time, many thought Gore's endorsement all but sealed Dean winning the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. Well, they were wrong...

10. The West Virginia Primary: During the long Democratic primary season, almost every Tuesday was an Election Night. But near the end -- as Obama had almost a statistical lock on the nomination -- we all covered the stand-alone West Virginia primary like a full-blown election. As expected, Clinton crushed Obama in this contest, but it had no impact on the Democratic primary.