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Top 10 of 2012

Aired December 25, 2012 - 15:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Don Lemon.

And this is CNN's Top 10 of 2012.

This hour, we look at the stories that captured our attention, what we see as the biggest stories of the year around the world in crime, money, weather, and even the biggest scandals. And later this hour, the big reveal of the most intriguing people of the year, as chosen by you.

We begin with the topic that dominated our coverage for much of the year.

Here is CNN's chief political correspondent and anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION," Candy Crowley, with the top 10 political stories of 2012.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Picking the top 10 moments of an election year is like finding your favorite grain of sand on the beach. There are an impossible number of possibilities. There are the moments when catchphrases become boomerangs.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because, if you have got a business, you didn't build that.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.

CROWLEY: When cast members stole the spotlight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm an American woman who uses contraception. So, let's start there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.

CROWLEY: And a fair number of moments ranging from ridiculous to inexplicable.

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: I'm not going to shut up. It's my turn.


OBAMA: I think it's called Romnesia. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: If I were to coin a term, it would be Obamaloney.

CROWLEY (on camera): So many moments, so much nonsense, but there were game changers, too, moments that shook up the race or made history and made out top 10 list.

(voice-over): It was seen at the time as a proxy race for November, Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker in a showdown with organized labor or budget cuts and collective bargaining power. Turns out the end result was no bellwether for the presidential race. Walker won, the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election.

And another nod to a Republican governor.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state and for the people of our state.

CROWLEY: New Jersey Governor Christie's full-on embrace of President Obama for helping Sandy-ravaged New Jersey came days before the election and had no noticeable effect on the presidential race, but some Republicans think Christie he didn't have to be that effusive. They will remember if his name pops up in 2016.

REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

CROWLEY: From the "Say what?" category of entries comes a combo team, Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock of Indiana.

RICHARD MOURDOCK (R), INDIANA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: If life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

CROWLEY: Republican dreams to take control of the Senate in 2012 had dwindled throughout the year, but Akin and Mourdock pretty much shut that door in a couple of sentences.

Two words from Mitt Romney during the primary reverberated all the way through to November. The issue was his plan to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers.

ROMNEY: People who have come here illegally won't be able to find work. And over time, those people would tend to leave the country, or self-deport.

CROWLEY: The concept of self-deportation by undocumented workers was not by itself responsible for Romney's dismal showing among Hispanics, but it surely greased the skids.

Also in the category of moments for which Romney would like to have had a mulligan, there was this. ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims.

CROWLEY: Romney called his remarks completely wrong. They also caused the deepest self-inflicted wound of the election.

On the flip side...

ROMNEY: He's going to be the next vice president of the United States.

CROWLEY: Romney's V.P. day may well have been the best moment of his campaign. The selection of Congressman Paul Ryan excited conservatives in a way that Romney himself had not.

How many moments are there in an hour-and-a-half? The president lost all of them in the first debate. The pictures tell the story of a man who phoned it in, panicking his supporters and providing an opening for Romney.

(on camera): And, finally, the top three moments of the election best described as history-making politics.

(voice-over): A Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare. And if that doesn't strike you as political, consider what would have happened on the campaign trail if the high court had struck down the president's signature first-term achievement.

OBAMA: At a certain point, I have just concluded that for, me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

CROWLEY: The first president to endorse same-sex marriage was a daily double moment, good politics aimed at an activist wing of his party base and most certainly history.

And, finally, the number one political moment of the year is easy during elections.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: CNN projects that Barack Obama will be reelected president of the United States.

OBAMA: We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.


CROWLEY: Auld Lang Syne, cue the confetti, and then say goodbye to 2012 and all of its moments, historical and hysterical.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


LEMON: Civil unrest, a new dictator and a teen who took on the Taliban, they're among our top 10 international stories of 2012.

Here's CNN's Zain Verjee.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Can you believe it is already the end of the year? Actually, the Mayan calendar said it would be the end of the world, but, oh, my goodness, look at this. We're still here and we're heading into 2013. There were so many headlines this year, so many important stories of 2012, from conflict, hopelessness, to inspiration and hope, and we also made sure we had a little bit of fun.

Take a look.

(voice-over): Number 10.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": Welcome to London from the world's most famous landmark.

VERJEE: The queen of England celebrated her diamond jubilee year. It rained on her flotilla parade, but it didn't take the sparkle out of the magical moments.

Millions lined the streets. Millions more tuned in for this famous wave. Number nine, September 11 in Benghazi, Libya, U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans killed in a terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission there. American officials first suggested it was spontaneous sparked by a protest over a controversial anti-Muslim film. The White House's handling of the attack became a political hot button.

Number eight, a political transition in North Korea, but not freedom here in the hermit kingdom. Kim Jong-un took over from his father. The West hoped there would be change, but there wasn't. At year's end, it flexed its military and technological muscle with its first rocket launch, successfully placing a satellite in orbit.

Number seven, brutality by police and private security was out in the open in South Africa, where the killing of miners was captured on camera and broadcast everywhere. Miners were protesting, demanding higher wages. The price they had to pay shocked the world.

Number six, 10 more years. The Communist Party of China selected new leaders. The secretive process produced a new president, Xi Jinping, an L.A. Lakers fan married to a rock star. But China's foreign policies are likely to stay the same, though the new leader is under pressure to deal with corruption and poverty at home.

Number five, Mohammed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group, became president of Egypt. As his predecessor, a dictator ousted by his people, went on trial from his hospital bed, Morsi impressed the West by helping to broker the cease-fire that ended an outbreak of warfare between Hamas and Israel. He then disappointed many by awarding himself sweeping new powers at home, triggering renewed outbursts of anger in Tahrir Square.

Number four, Israel and Hamas poured fuel on the fiery unrest in the region, one side firing rockets, the other launching missile strikes against targets in Gaza. For the first time, Israel felt vulnerable in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the site of this bus attack in the waning days of the conflict, before the big guns of diplomacy helped broker a cease-fire.

Number three, in Europe, Greece was the problem child that spent too much, saved nothing and threatened to take down the euro. New leadership didn't stop constant violent protests staged by those facing loss of jobs, pay cuts, higher taxes as their weary government begged for more cash.

Europe's leaders, including the new French president, Francois Hollande, committed to save the euro. It lives on, but for how long?

Number two:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The deadliest month to date as the Assad regime intensified its use of airpower.

VERJEE: One of the questions most asked in 2012 was, how much longer can this man hold onto power? Bashar al-Assad was under ever more intense pressure to step down.

But his regime stepped up the firepower against the opposition, civilians caught in the crossfire. More than 40,000 people have died so far.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is yet another bread line.

VERJEE: The opposition fights on, making more dramatic gains than ever and gaining pledges of additional support from the international community.

Number one, she fought back from the brink of death after being attacked on a school bus. The Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head because she was an outspoken advocate for the education of girls in Pakistan. But books won over bullets. The 15-year-old miraculously survived. Malala woke up in a British hospital and according to her father immediately asked for her schoolbooks.

The world was gripped, moved, and inspired by the story of one determined young girl facing down an entire network of armed militants, and winning.

Zain Verjee, CNN, London.


LEMON: Next: the stories that made news for all the wrong reasons, criminal acts that claimed far too many lives. And, later, scandal, professional athletes, national leaders, even the royal family, no one was immune from it in 2012.


LEMON: The year definitely had its share of horrendous crime stories, some capturing international attention and outrage, others filled with disturbing details almost too hard to believe.

Here's Randi Kaye with our top 10 crime and punishment stories of 2012.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A manhunt is under way for McAfee software founder John McAfee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The computer whiz and millionaire is now wanted for questioning in the murder of an American expatriate in Belize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police are pursuing multiple leads, they say, and they claim they just want to talk to McAfee as part of their investigation, but nobody seems to know where he is.

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Yes, this one was strange and only got stranger after weeks went by and no one could find him -- well, not no one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news right now. Fugitive software tycoon John McAfee wanted for questioning in the murder of his neighbor in Belize has been on the run for three weeks from authorities, but our Martin Savidge found him.

KAYE: McAfee claims he didn't kill his neighbor.

Number nine, the day darkness fell under a crystal-clear August sky in Wisconsin.

LEMON: The very information -- latest information that we know, seven people are dead at this point, three of them, we're told, outside of that temple.

KAYE: The gunman outside at a Sikh temple, U.S. Army veteran Wade Michael Page. After shooting one police officer multiple times, Page was shot and killed by another officer.

Number eight, the massacre in Kandahar Province.

OBAMA: The United States takes this as seriously as if it was our own citizens and our own children who were murdered.

KAYE: The accused gunman, Army Staff Robert Bales. Military officials say Bales left his Afghanistan outpost on a night back in March and single-handedly attacked two villages, opening fire and killing 16 Afghan civilians in their homes and wounding six others.

Number seven, striking a deal in the shooting that struck a blow to the nation.

BLITZER: The man who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people in a rampage in Tucson last year pleaded guilty to 19 charges.

KAYE: Jared Loughner was sentenced to seven consecutive life terms, plus 140 years. His guilty plea means he will avoid the death penalty.

Chicago's murder rate surged this year to levels not seen in almost a decade. By December, close to 500 people were killed in the city.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just not the gangbangers. Right now, innocent kids and women are being shot on a daily basis.

KAYE: Averaging more than a murder a day, most of the crime happened in a few specific areas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The entire city suffers when that violence happens. And this idea of not in my backyard is not OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We start this morning with breaking news from Italy.

KAYE: A massive cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, turned on its side after running aground in January. Thirty-two passengers and crew were killed. The captain says it was an accident, not a crime. But he now faces charges.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ship's captain is being investigated for manslaughter and abandoning ship.

KAYE: He claims he tripped and fell into a lifeboat.

The sentencing of Jerry Sandusky.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Carol, Jerry Sandusky will die in jail.

KAYE: A judge sentenced the 68-year-old former Penn State assistant football coach to at least 30 years in jail after he was convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse. Despite the mountain of evidence against him, Sandusky continues to proclaim his innocence. He is in the process of appealing his sentence.

Number three, the shooting of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

TRACY MARTIN, FATHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: My son left Sanford, Florida, in a body bag, while George Zimmerman went home to go to sleep in his own bed.

KAYE: Accused gunman George Zimmerman claimed self-defense in a case that sparked international outrage and ignited racial tensions. Trial is set for June.

Number two, July 20, just past midnight, terror inside theater nine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aurora, Colorado, nine miles east of Denver, where there has been a mass shooting at a movie theater.

KAYE: Prosecutors say James Holmes donned protective gear, threw tear gas and began firing. In the end, 12 people killed, 58 others wounded -- Holmes faces 152 charges. Many victims continue to recover, while others will never recover the loss they suffered that night.

And number one:

BLITZER: Unimaginable horror grips the nation in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

KAYE: Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

LEMON: This is unspeakable, what happened in this town.

KAYE: Innocent children shot dead in their classrooms. The victims? Sixteen 6-year-olds, four 7-year-olds, along with six adults.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Emilie's laughter was infectious. And all those who had the pleasure to meet her would agree that this world is a better place because she has been in it.

KAYE: In Newtown, Connecticut, an outpouring of kindness and compassion, while a nation faced hard questions about mental health and guns, as the president issued an emotional call for action.

OBAMA: For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory.

KAYE: Randi Kay, CNN, Atlanta.


LEMON: Next, the stories that affect your bottom line, from Facebook's IPO to the new Apple boss to the fiscal cliff -- a look at the biggest money stories of the year.

And later this hour: the 10 most intriguing people of 2012 as chosen by you.



LEMON: Breaking news tonight: One of the greatest voices of her generation, Whitney Houston, has died.


LEMON: February 11, 2012, a tragic end for an iconic singer.

Whitney Houston, who battled with drugs and alcohol for decades, was found dead in a hotel bathroom. Houston's death was ruled an accidental drowning, with the effects of heart disease and cocaine use listed as contributing factors. She was just 48. That was one of the biggest entertainment moments of 2012. Some might say 2012 was the year of Washington vs. the rest of us, employment, home prices and the stock market all up, even as our nation's leaders failed to get their act together.

Here are the top 10 stories that caught the attention of CNN business correspondent Christine Romans and our chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Number 10, Apple, the first year without Steve Jobs, a company that is trying to prove under a new CEO that it can still invent things we didn't even know we needed that we would buy faster than anything has ever been sold in personal technology before.

Number nine, the U.S. stock market. Despite all those worries about the fiscal cliff and maybe slower growth in the U.S. economy, the stock market has had a great year. Too bad you missed out. The smart money has been in the market. The rest of us have been worried about the fiscal cliff.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Number eight, Facebook's IPO. Hundreds of millions of people like Facebook, but investors did not. On its first day as a public company, trading glitches at the Nasdaq and questions about the company's ability to make money on mobile users pummeled the stock, which has yet to climb its way back to its IPO price.

ROMANS: Number seven, mother Mayer. The new CEO of Yahoo!, who announced that she was just going to take a two-week maternity leave as she tried to turn this company around. Thirty-seven years old, it looks like a mother's touch is just exactly what Yahoo! needed.

VELSHI: Number six, Mother Nature, an intense drought in the Midwest that scorched the corn and soy crop, sending prices sky-high.

And who can forget superstorm Sandy? Neighborhoods around the Northeast swept away, millions without power and damages as high as $50 billion, raising lots of questions about U.S. infrastructure and whether we should be spending some money to fix it.

ROMANS: Number five, China -- is China slowing or is China leading the world? We do know that China will be the biggest economy in the world by 2020, for sure by 2030.

OBAMA: China.

ROMNEY: China.

OBAMA: China.

ROMNEY: China.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China. ROMANS: China also getting more than a few mentions during the presidential campaign, probably because it's pretty clear China is both a competitor and a partner.

VELSHI: Number four, Europe. The European Union was fractured by too much debt and the austerity plans to fix it. That saga is far from other.

Number three, the housing market finally, finally bottomed out. The combination of low home prices and continued record low mortgage rates set off a building and buying spree. Well-heeled investors began buying entire neighborhoods, but first-time buyers were also able to get a home of their own for the first time in years, as long as they had a hefty down payment.

ROMANS: Number two:

BLITZER: CNN projects that Barack Obama will be reelected president of the United States.

ROMANS: The election, more than just about Obama and Romney, it was about socialism and capitalism, about spending and cutting, about what kind of role government should have in your life.

VELSHI: Number one is the fiscal cliff. Lawmakers saw it coming, but didn't bother to pay any attention to it until after the election. Had they put politics aside and dealt with it earlier, who knows how strong the U.S. economy would be right now.


LEMON: Next: scandal. Can you guess who made our list because of bad behavior?


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm George Howell at CNN world headquarters at Atlanta.

Bad weather today is pushing through the south. Police in Louisiana think that a tornado may have hit downtown Alexandria doing serious damage to a three blocks stretch of buildings there. They are currently checking then area for injured people.

Meanwhile, winner storm warnings went up today from Arkansas to Oklahoma. There is a possibility of about a half a foot of sleet or snow before all the said and done, tornadoes from Texas to Florida. One man died in Texas when a tree fell opoff his truck.

Elsewhere, the shooter who ambushed and killed to upstate New York firefighters Monday left a very chilling note. William Spangler (ph) wrote quote "I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down and do what I do best, killing people." Spangler (ph) said is home on fire then waited nearby and shot four firefighters who responded killing two firefighters before taking his own life. At the Vatican, Pope Benedict called for peace in Syria. More than forty thousand Syrians have been killed since the battle began.

And in Egypt, voters approved the new constitution today. The opposition though plans to appeal the results.

Thos are the headlines this hour. I'm George Howell. More news coming up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, ones, and lift off.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Lift off of the say 2012.

Space-X launched a rocket into space, becoming the first commercial company to dock a space craft in the international space station. It marked the new beginning. Private companies, instead of NASA, sending cargo and eventually they will send humans to the station. It was one of the space industry's top accomplishments and one of our scientific and technological breakthroughs of 2012.

It was a banner year for bad behavior and not all of it easy to stomach from sports to politics and beyond. Here is Joe Johns with the ten most scandalous stories of 2012.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Number ten, royalty gone wild. This year, the British royal jewels got a public viewing. In Las Vegas, Prince Harry got caught on his birthday suite playing strip billiards which didn't go over-well back home. But when Duchess Katherine was photographed by paparazzi in various stages of undress while on vacation with Prince William, it was the photographers who became targets of outrage.

Number nine, going out of bounds. The NFL has made it a major mission to crack down on concussions, so it was unpleasant for the league to learn in March that the New Orleans Saints had a bounty system from 2009 to 2011, paying team members for big hits that knocked opposing players out of the game. Commissioner Roger Goodell responded with harsh suspensions for the general manager and coaches. Initially the league also suspended a handful of players but later overturned that decision.

Number eight, the wheels fly off the bike. Cycling superstar, Lance Armstrong, had endured this world of steroids rumors for years. But, that all changed in August. The seven-time tour de France winner was stripped of titles, lost sponsorships, even left the board of its famous cancer charity live strong after the U.S. anti-doping agency found that he engaged in a long term pattern of blood doping during his career. Armstrong still denies using performance enhancing drugs.

Number seven, wrong side of the street. Few things are more universal for American children than Sesame Street and Elmo which makes the Elmo sex scandal all the more shocking. Kevin Clash resigned as the iconic voice of Elmo after allegations surfaced that years ago he had sexual contact with under-aged males. The show says no one there knew anything about it.

Number six, Congress behaving badly. The whiff of scandal doesn't mean you can't win a race for Congress. Democratic congressman Jesse Jackson junior of Illinois was re-elected even though he was absent for months due to mental health issues and under federal investigation for misusing congressional resources. Weeks after the election, he resigned.

During the campaign, allegations surfaced that pro-life Republican congressman Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee had urged his pregnant mistress to get an abortion a decade ago. He denied the woman was pregnant or has an abortion and he was re-elected by 12 points.

Number five, Libor pants on fire. Even if you have never heard of Libor, it probably has a big impact on your finances. The interest rates went mortgages, student loans and credit cards are determined in part by the rate at which banks borrow from each other called Libor. In June, British bank, Barclays, has paid nearly half a billion dollars for manipulating these important interest rates and the investigations at other banks are still ongoing. The sheer scale of it is huge. It makes American financial hook, Bernie Madoff, who made off with billions look like a skid row pickpocket.

Number four, big trouble I communist China. Everybody thought one of the most powerful politicians in China, Chongqing communist party chief Bo Xilai, was getting rid of crime and corruption until this summer when a court convicted his wife of murdering a British businessman and the government accused him of trying to hinder the investigation as well as taking prize and abusing his power. Now he has been kicked out of the communist party. Leaders voted to expel him in November.

Number three, a service becomes not so secret. The role of protecting the president when he travels abroad has its moments of glamour and excitement. That atmosphere included hookers for some secret service agents and military personnel visiting Cartagena in advance of the president's arrival last April. It was an embarrassing incident for the White House, but it would not have bothered Colombian authorities since prosecution is legal there. Local police only got involved because of a hotel altercation between a woman and a secret service agent over the payment.

Number two, varying the lead. It has been called the building that never sleeps but the BBC's London headquarters said it was completely unaware of the serious allegations involving long time presenter, the late Jimmy Savile. Their show, "News Night," investigated accusations of child sexual abuse, but failed to air a report on what it may have discover about an alleged abuser within their midst. Six people have been arrested so far and the BBC's director general has resigned.

Number one, David Petraeus' blown cover. The illustrious career of retired four-star general and CIA director David Petraeus was brought to an abrupt end by e-mails. Here's what happened. Last spring, Petraeus' biographer, Paula Broadwell, wrote anonymous e-mails to Tampa socialite Jill Kelly, warning her to stay away from high ranking military officers. Kelly complained to a friend in the FBI, which led to an investigation with unexpected consequences. The FBI also discovered e-mail exchanges between Broadwell and Petraeus showing that in additional to being the general's biographer, she was also his mistress. Petraeus resigned from the CIA just days after the election.

Who knows what's in store for 2013. Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


LEMON: Political comedian Dean Obeidallah joins us. Top of the list this year is scandal in Washington. Are you surprised Petraeus topped the list?

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: No, I'm not. I mean, you have to be honest. The guy is the head of CIA, the top spy in America and he can't keep an affair secret? So, I think that there is some, you know, there is some human quality in there and some humor at the same time. But it's remarkable to me. It is men in power who think they can get away with it. Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Newt Gingrich, one after the other. And I think it is endemic that men in power think they live by different rules. That's why he deserves to be in the top of the chart.

LEMON: OK. Let's turn now to the royal family. Even the royal family couldn't escape the list.

OBEIDALLAH: Well, absolutely not. And in this case though, look at Prince Harry. That kid has had trouble after trouble. If you invite a bunch of people to your room, get drunk and play strip poker, allow them to take pictures, you're going to be in the press. You are going to be in the tabloids. He is a horrible Prince Harry in that regards, while the duchess, unfortunate for her, was had some exploitation of privacy. She was alone in a French villa and they used, you know, long lenses to take pictures of her, completely different scenario. And that is why he deserves to be in the media and she doesn't for what she did.

LEMON: Is it a double standard though, because he's a guy? And so, everyone is kind of said you know what, they kind brushed it off a little bit. If a female member of the royal family had taken pictures like Prince Harry, it would be a different story.

OBEIDALLAH: I think it would be, but the scenario is completely different. If she had invited a bunch of people she met in a casino to come to her VIP suite, get drunk and play strip poker and take pictures, guess what, you're opening yourself up for it.

But, I mean, in this world, and the paparazzi internationally and domestically, we have to limit them by profiting off of pictures of celebrities by invading their privacy and that's what it's about, a different scenario, you know. That's -- we have to have some standards and I agree with this one though. LEMON: Dean Obeidallah, thank you.


LEMON: In 2011, the United States experienced 14 weather disasters causing $1 billion or more, and in 2012 the hits kept oncoming.


CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Number ten, April 15.

LEMON: Tonight, millions of people throughout the Midwest are battened down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a second, the whole house was gone. We were looking up at blue sky.

MYERS: Seventh five tornados ripped through the Midwest causing nearly $300 million in debt.

Number nine, tropical storm Debbie.

JOHNS: Tropical storm Debbie, this is what happens when you get hammered by as much as two feet of rain.

MYERS: The storm never developed into a hurricane but it did leave up to twenty-eight inches of rain in northern Florida.

Number eight, summer heat wave. Sweltering heat naked the nation this summer, March and July set U.S. records as the hottest of all time.

Number seven, western wild fires.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. There is smoke in the air.

MYERS: Heat waves helped fuelled a string of wild fires that charred the west. Colorado experienced two of the state's largest and most destructive wild fires ever.

Number six, the grace show in June.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It began in Iowa, moved through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and into Washington D.C. It is just a fast moving long lasting violent thunderstorm complex.

MYERS: After charging eight hundred miles, 22 were dead and five millions without power.

Number five, the Dallas 22. There is an old myth that tornadoes don't hit big cities. April third proved otherwise when twisters hit Dallas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was scary. It was so scary. It reminded you of the wizard of oz when the tornado hi and everything going around and around.

MYERS: In all 22 tornados caused nearly a billion dollars worth of damage within 24 hours.

Number four, deadliest tornadoes. Tornadoes took up three slots in our top ten countdowns but this event was the deadliest, marked second and third, 70 tornadoes built 40-feet Midwest.

And number three, hurricane Isaac.

Hurricane Isaac descended on Louisiana Tuesday night nearly seven years to the day that hurricane Katrina stroked. Isaac wasn't such a monster, but it was still a killer. The country held its collective breath as the levees were tested yet again. In the end, the new levees saved New Orleans but Plaquemines Parish was devastated by flood.

Number two, the drought that rivaled the dust bowl. All of those big rivers, all very dry this year. By September, 66 percent of the U.S. was in some degree of drought. If the dry weather is expected to continue in the 2013 and this could become the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

And number one, super storm Sandy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The storm made landfall over the most populated areas of the United States. Wind damage, power outages, storm surges, inland flooding, even snowstorms are threatening the lives and homes of people from Virginia to Massachusetts.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I have never seen devastation like this in my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The surf here is getting much, much more violent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Curfew is underway right now. You are not to be on the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: They are keeping an eye on the possibility of flooding.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Super storm sandy has crippled the nation's biggest transit system.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: I'm talking about flooding, possible power outages that could last for day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: From the city to the country side, people just need to be self-aware.

MYERS: The storm killed at least one hundred thirteen people in the U.S. and cost tens of billions of dollars worth of damage, although repairs will take decades.

Chad Myers, CNN.


LEMON: Next, the most intriguing people of 2012 as voted on by you. But first remembering some of those we lost this past year.




LEMON: You know you know it. That's South Korean rapper Psy in his viral hit, "Gangnam style." With more than one billion views, "Gangnam style" has become the most watched you tube video so far. While Psy may have dances was to the record booths, did he make the list of most intriguing people of 2012 as chosen by you?

Here is Brooke Baldwin.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Number ten, Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The United States Supreme Court in a major decision, a five to four decision, opposed the president's health care reform law.

BALDWIN: You could have imagined the deciding vote was cast by the chief justice himself. Conservatives stunned. Liberals perplexed but thrilled. More that you had, the Roberts court takes on same-sex marriage.

Number nine, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Myer. At 37, had a major tech company, a CEO in a male-dominated field, pregnant. It's the baby part that became a problematic, shall we say, when Myer decided to take just a couple of weeks for maternity leave. The mommy bloggers fear went nuts. Sure, she could be woman in charge, but what message was she sending by not staying home longer with her baby?

Number eight, South Korean rapper, Psy.

Say what you want, his lasso inspired dance style first discovered on You Tube had everyone going Gangnam and we mean everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lasso again and then the horseback.

BALDWIN: Psy was riding high in 2012, star performer in the most watched you tube video of all time.

Number seven, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This election is over, but our principles endure.

BALDWIN: Romney ran on his impressive business credentials but it was his multiple gaffes during the campaign that analysts say helped seal his fate. Remember the 47 percent comments?

ROMNEY: The 47 percent who are with him who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they --

BALDWIN: And this one.

ROMNEY: Binders full of women.

BALDWIN: Number six, ex-CIA director general David Petraeus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Breaking news now, coming in regarding the chief of the CIA, general David Petraeus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General Petraeus, can you talk with us, please?

BALDWIN: The news was unexpected. The reason, shocking. Petraeus, a retired four-star general had quit his CIA post and admitted he had cheated on his wife. Petraeus' mistress was also his biographer, Paula Broadwell, an embarrassing exit from the public stage by one of the most respected public servants of his time.


BALDWIN: An impressive list. And that's only half of them. The most intriguing people of 2012, numbers five to one revealed after a quick break.


LEMON: It was a movie that outraged NFL fans in 2012. The league battling with referees over money tried to use replacements from college and even high school. But after a blown game deciding call on national TV, the two sides decided it was best to settle and agreed on a new contract within days, making the replacement refs one of our top sports moments of the year. The men in stripes did not make our most intriguing list, so who did?

Brooke Baldwin continues our countdown of those you voted as the most intriguing people of 2012. Here's five through one.


BALDWIN (voice-over): Number five, super jumper Felix Baumgartner. Let's face it. We did what no human has ever done, diving 24 miles from the edge of space, breaking the sound barrier along the way.

FELIX BAUMGARTNER, SKY DIVER: I'm still the same guy. But as soon as you start traveling, people recognize my face. I was scared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were scared?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was a little bit scared.

BALDWIN: Number four, New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

CHRISTIE: The shore and the boardwalk in seaside heights of my childhood no longer exist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for everything. BALDWIN: The rough-and-tumble governor took charge when a super storm named Sandy ravaged his state days before the presidential election. A Romney backer suddenly, Christie was standing arm in arm with the president, praising Mr. Obama's leadership as they Toured Sandy's wrath.

CHRISTIE: When you know you have responsibility for those folks, you couldn't give a damn about the politics of things. I could care less today.

BALDWIN: Number three, Olympian Gabby Douglas.


BALDWIN: One of the fab five at the London games. She captured our hearts, becoming the first African-American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics.

GABBY DOUGLAS, GYMNAST: I wanted to inspire a nation and what's cool about this is inspire a generation and I love that.

BALDWIN: She did just that.

Number two, school age activist Malala Yousafzai. Malala rose to fame blogging about the brutality of her life in Pakistan under Taliban rule. Not yet a teenager, she dared to suggest girls not only deserve but have a right to an education.

MALALA YOUSAFZAI, ACTIVIST: I will get my education if it is in home, school or anyplace.

BALDWIN: The Taliban retaliated, hunting her down, shooting her in the neck and back. The attack outraged even hardened Pakistanis and all around the world. Malala quickly became an international symbol of good against evil. Today, she is recovering in England.

Number one, President Barack Obama.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight, you voted for action, not politics as usual.

BALDWIN: After a long and we mean long and bitter campaign, President Obama won re-election. In 2012, the president also won the Supreme Court's stamp of approval for his health care reform program and made history with this statement --

OBAMA: I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

BALDWIN: As 2012 comes to a close, the president joined in grief with a community shocked by senseless violence.

OBAMA: These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.

Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Atlanta.


LEMON: That's 2012. In just 60 minutes, what is 2013 hold? We will find out together.

I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for watching.