On the brink.

From billions of searches emerged a fascinating portrait of a culture on the brink — of environmental changes, political breakaways, celebrity breakdowns, and technological breakthroughs. Join us as we explore the top trends in 2007.

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By Molly McCall, Buzz Senior Editor

In the first days of January, cell phone footage of Saddam Hussein's final moments leaked out and tore a blistering path across the Web.

The Iraqi dictator's death by hanging happened at the very end of 2006. Yet the gruesome footage of the event so rattled the Web that searches for the deposed leader dwarfed all other news queries in 2007.

Oil prices South California fires

The ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan also propelled buzz throughout the year. But it was Iran that snatched the No. 2 slot in the list of top news searches. The nation's budding nuclear program, its controversial and outspoken president, and the growing talk of a military confrontation between Iran and the U.S. drove an astonishing number of searchers to the Web.

Back in the U.S., President Bush may be a lame duck but, as he reminded the Washington press corps recently, he is still relevant. The exponential growth of the bloggerati and surprise events like Karl Rove's departure helped to keep buzz on the commander in chief spiking throughout 2007.

As for the hopefuls eyeing the head chair in the Oval Office, all the presidential candidates have embraced the Web. But the two Democratic front-runners succeeded in fanning the fires of Search most intensely. In 2006, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton kicked up a whopping number of queries. They did it again in '07. Clinton is currently surging ahead in the polls, but if past buzz is any judge (and we think it is), she and Obama will remain neck and neck in their buzz tally.

Why no Republican contenders in the top 10 news searches for the year? We leave that to political analysts to answer. The GOP candidates certainly know how to spark buzz, and we've seen hefty spikes on Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and, most notably, Ron Paul over the past 365 days. But their numbers don't come close to Obama's or Clinton's. Regardless, searches for a candidate by no means translate into votes. Just ask Howard Dean about that.

In politics everything can change in a heartbeat—and likely will. When it comes to buzz, there's just one thing we can count on: The looming U.S. presidential election will ensure that one politician's name emerges among the top searches for 2008. Whose name it will be remains one of the most pressing—and spellbinding—questions of the months to come.

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METHODOLOGY
To come up with the Top Trends of 2007, we analyze search queries based on a number of factors, including absolute volume and growth versus previous periods, to see which themes and trends bubble to the surface. And of course, individual users and their searches remain anonymous.

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