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Top 10: News-Making Moms of 2008

This year was marred by a deep, dark recession, but it was also the year of THE MOM. As proof, I present Amy Poehler, who began '08 playing a Baby Mama in the movies and punctuated the year by practically giving birth for real on SNL's Weekend Update desk, filling the Presidential Election with big-belly laughs.

They may not have all made us proud, but these women definitely did their best to make 2008 the mother of all years:

10. Dara Torres: Her amazing comeback made ripples when the hard-bodied, 41-year-old mother of a 2-year-old daughter became the oldest female swimmer in the history of the Olympic games. The Parkland mom won her first Olympic medal in 1984 (a year before Michael Phelps was born) and beat out 16-year-olds to clinch two silver medals in the summer in Beijing. Did we mention she was 41?

9. The Pregnancy Pact Teens of Gloucester High: They put their school and small Massachusetts fishing town on the map when they began filing into the school clinic to find out if they were expecting. By the time summer vacation rolled around, some 150 pregnancy tests had been administered by the school nurse and a total of 17 girls were knocked up. One teen mom explained the girls were pining for the "unconditional love" of a baby. Others saw it as a wake-up call to national stats that show teen pregnancies are on the rise again for the first time in 15 years.

8. Virgin Shark Mother: A female Atlantic blacktip shark named Tidbit became a medical mystery (or religious miracle, depending on who you talk to) after she was found dead due to pregnancy complications with a deceased pup in her womb. Nothing fishy here: It was determined the shark mom had produced the offspring without the help of a shark father through asexual reproduction in her tank at an aquarium in Virginia Beach, Va. Dozens of suspected shark dudes breathed a sigh of relief.

7. Sarah Palin: Love or hate her, the first female governor of Alaska and the Republican VP nominee put moms front and center, with her Hockey Moms quote, her special needs baby and her mother-to-be teenage daughter.

6. Thomas Beatie: Born a woman and trans-gendered into a man, she/he gave birth to a healthy baby girl in June. Get ready for Pregnant Man, Part II. Beatie announced in November that he's pregnant with a second child.

5. Angelina Jolie: OK, so she broke the golden rule and stole another woman's husband, but even in a year marked by new celeb moms – Jamie Lynn Spears, Jessica Alba, Nicole Kidman, Gwen Stefani, Ashlee Simpson, Naomi Watts, Christina Aguilera, Nicole Richie, Halle Berry and Cate Blanchett – Jolie was a standout for multiplying at warp speed (she's halfway to a dozen). She really earns this spot for demonstrating that a mother's love knows no racial, ethnic or geographical boundaries.

4. Casey Anthony: The undisputed Most Hated Mom of the Year. Police say she not only forged checks and used a friend's credit card without permission, but she also murdered her 3-year-old daughter, Caylee. The Orlando mom took a month to report her little girl missing. Since then, a nation has followed the bad mom's tattoo-getting, beer-buying exploits, culminating with the discovery of Caylee's skeleton near the family home in December.

3. The Yearning for Zion Ranch Moms: More than 100 mothers and their 430 children were removed from the Texas polygamist sect's remote ranch in April, after a 16-year-old girl there complained of physical and mental abuse. For awhile, these breakaway Mormon sect moms had us buzzing about such big issues as parental rights, religious freedom and – most importantly – lives wasted on bad hair and ugly dresses.

2. Michelle Obama: For her fist bumps and gentle mocking of her presidential spouse, her public props to her mom for helping care for her girls and her careful consideration of schools for her two daughters, the incoming First Lady and working mom wins praise for keeping it real, even when home is called the White House.

1. Mother Nature: In case you forgot that you don't mess with her, Mother Superior reminded us of her power with a cyclone in Burma, an earthquake in China and a series of deadly storms and hurricanes in Haiti. Here's hoping those maternal instincts kick in when 2009 rolls in this week.

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