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Most popular YouTube videos of 2011 – Son of gay parents, Obama’s bin Laden speech top political list

New York, Dec 21 (): A hearing in the Iowa House Judiciary Committee over a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage last winter generated the most-viewed political video of the year.

Zach Wahls, a student at the University of Iowa, stood before the panel to describe growing up as the son of two men. A handsome Eagle Scout, Mr. Wahls described a childhood similar to that of other Iowa families.

“In my 19 years not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple,” Mr. Wahls told the committee. “And you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.”

His  plea for marriage rights for his lesbian parents drew 18.3 million views to become the most-watched political video of the year, according to YouTube’s ranking of viral political videos.

President Barack Obama’s speech to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in April was second on the list, while Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry’s ad criticizing gays in the military placed third and was the year’s most-watched campaign commercial.

YouTube, the popular video-sharing site, released its 2011 list on Tuesday. The company based its rankings on videos uploaded by users to the site’s news and politics category.

Rounding out the top five: Mr. Obama’s announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden on May 1, and “Brother Can You Spare a Trillion?” by Florida Republican activist Blaise Ingoglia, warning of the mounting federal debt.

Together, the top 10 political videos drew about 50 million views from January to mid-December 2011.

To be sure, the political offerings were much less popular than those on YouTube’s Top 10 overall list, which was also released on Tuesday.

“Friday,” Rebecca Black’s sing-songy paean to the weekend, was the most-watched video of the year with nearly 180 million views, YouTube announced. Even “Cat Mom Hugs Baby Kitten,” which placed 10th on the overall list, had a whopping 37 million views.

But Ramya Raghavan, news and politics manager for YouTube, said public interest in political videos was already strong and would grow more so as the 2012 presidential campaign intensifies.

“A roller-skating baby is always going to get a lot of views,” Ms. Raghavan said. “But the audience is also showing a big appetite for political news and content, and there is so much more of this presidential race to go.”