Newsweek's Power 50: Profiles


In the oversaturated, hypercommodified media culture of 2010, the most influential political figures are generally the ones who make the most money peddling their perspectives.  To figure who's tops in this new world, NEWSWEEK asked Wealth-X, an intelligence and research firm, to compile a list of the 50 highest-earning political figures of 2010. Included in the rankings are politicians, ex-politicians, media personalities, and political consultants who hawk their personal brands in the public marketplace—and influence American political discourse in the process.

The Rush Limbaugh Show is on the air three hours a day, five days a week, carried by some 650 radio stations. Industry estimates put his weekly audience somewhere between 15 million and 20 million. Talkers Magazine recently named him the most important radio host of all time.

Limbaugh has wielded political influence since his show first went national 22 years ago. In 1994 he was so important to the Republican congressional landslide that the GOP House freshman class made him an honorary member. But never before in his long career has Limbaugh had the degree of political influence he currently enjoys. It is not an exaggeration to say, as former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel did, that Limbaugh is "the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party." He intends to use that force and energy to shape the Republican side of the next Congress.

In a recent e-mail exchange, Limbaugh laid out his to-do list, which includes repeal of the health-care law and the financial-regulatory-reform bill; ending the ban on offshore drilling; the reprivatization of General Motors, Chrysler, and the student-loan program; a spike in the heart of cap-and-trade legislation (he regards global warming as a hoax); the elimination of the capital-gains tax; a reduction of the corporate tax rate to 20 percent; and replacement of the progressive income-tax code with a flat or "fair" tax.

Limbaugh is aware that it is very unlikely that there will be enough votes in Congress to achieve any of this. But that isn't the point. He wants to use the next two years as an educational seminar on what he regards as the evils of Obama-style liberalism. "The mistake the GOP made in 1994 is that they stopped teaching after they won," he says. What should the GOP do to make its point? "Send Obama a repeal bill every week and make him veto it," he suggests. "My attitude is, who says we can't override his vetoes?  

Read the rest of Zev Chafet's profile of Rush Limbaugh here.

Glenn Beck
$33 million
Host, The Glenn Beck Program (syndicated radio) and Glenn Beck (Fox News)
The early-morning regional radio host, who once struggled with alcohol and drug abuse, found his passions in politics and Mormonism. Left CNN Headline News in 2008 for Fox News; today he is the self-proclaimed protector of American freedom and one of the Tea Party's leading voices. Earns much of his income—$13 million—through publishing, which includes a string of bestselling books, Fusion magazine, and a subscription-only newsletter. His latest novel, The Overton Window, has sold more than 300,000 copies in hardback since its June release. Makes another $10 million in radio income, $5 million endorsing products like Goldline, $3 million from speeches, and $2 million from Fox News for his ­tearful talkfest, Glenn Beck. His daily audience approaches 11 million people across four hours of radio and television.

CORRECTION: We were incorrect to state that, as part of Beck’s $33 million income in the last year, he made $5 million “endorsing products like Goldline.” Rather, Beck made $5 million from online ventures, including  While Beck has endorsed and promoted Goldline as part of that company’s sponsorship of his radio show, we should not have attributed any specific amount of his income to a Goldline endorsement. NEWSWEEK regrets the error.

$22 million
Host, The Sean Hannity Show (syndicated radio) and Hannity (Fox News)
A college dropout who spent years as a California contractor listening to talk radio. He was fired from his first hosting gig within weeks, but found success in Atlanta. Today Hannity is radio's second-highest earner, bringing in an estimated $20 million a year for his right-leaning, three-hour daily syndicated talk show; his radio contracts are with Citadel Media and Premiere Radio Networks. Drew attention on Fox News in 1996 when he began hosting  Hannity & Colmes with liberal counterweight Alan Colmes. Colmes left in 2008, allowing Hannity to follow Fox News's other prime-time draw, The O'Reilly Factor. Earns at least $2 million more from a combination of television income (Fox News), speaking fees, book royalties, and the advance on his latest book, Conservative Victory

$20 million
Host, The O'Reilly Factor (Fox News)
The godfather of right-wing TV punditry has been on the air for more than 13 years and is believed to have one of the most lucrative television contracts at Fox News. The O'Reilly Factor brings in nearly 3 million viewers per night—and a bit more when Jon Stewart sits across the table. O'Reilly also gen­er­ates millions of dollars as an author; eight of his nine titles have become bestsellers, and more than 4 million of his books are in print. His latest, Pinheads and Patriots, debuted at No. 1 on The Wall Street Journal's bestseller list. He commands at least six figures per speech, and has become well known for his public feuds. A recent appearance on The View ended with Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walking off the set. In August an ongoing public squabble with rival network MSNBC and its corporate owner, General Electric, flared up again, with O'Reilly accusing them of "promoting the election of Barack Obama and then seeking to profit from his policies." He also criticized actress Jennifer Aniston over comments she made regarding single mothers—that women did not need men to become moms—calling her opinions "destructive to our society." Before he became Fox's most-watched face, he was the host of Inside Edition and a daytime news presenter for ABC.


$15 million
Host, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
Hero to liberals and moderates everywhere continues to make millions panning the extreme views, hypocrisies, and gaffes of nearly every politician and newsmaker on this list--especially those directly above and below him. The bulk of his earnings come from his Daily Show salary and production income from his Busboy Productions. His Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (co-hosted with Stephen Colbert) on the National Mall is his contribution to the political carnival this election season. Stewart took over as host of The Daily Show in 1999. In the decade since, he has become one of the most trusted sources for information on politics and society, with nearly 2 million viewers nightly. Busboy produces The Daily Show as well as The Colbert Report, a successful spinoff, and Tosh.0. Stewart's 2004 faux textbook, America (The Book), sold 2.6 million copies. The ­follow-up, Earth (The Book), was released in September. Recently extended his contract with Comedy Central through 2013 to cover the 2012 presidential election.

$14 million
Former Governor of Alaska; Author, Going Rogue and America by Heart
Will Palin run for president? She's making millions on the mere possibility. Most of the former governor's earnings come from royalties on her memoir, Going Rogue, and portions of an advance for her upcoming tome, America by Heart. She likely also brings in six figures from her role as a contributor on Fox News. Her reality show, Sarah Palin's Alaska, premieres on TLC in November. She has made few paid podium appearances in the last year, but her speaking fee likely exceeds $100,000. Most of her talks, bashing Obama and the left, are given free of charge. She recently enjoyed a two-week trip across the country rallying Tea Party supporters bent on "taking their country back." 


$11 million
Host, Imus In The Morning (ABC Radio)
A few years removed from the infamous scandal involving the Rutgers women's basketball team, the I-man remains one of the most valuable national radio personalities. The morning talk-show host hauls in at least $8 million annually from his five-year contract with ABC Radio, plus an estimated $3 million from a simulcast deal with Fox Business. Some guests still refuse to come on the program, while others have forgiven him for racially offensive comments. Has claimed he currently has more affiliates and listeners than he did while working for CBS. Also well known for his year-round working cattle ranch in northern New Mexico, where he hosts children afflicted with cancer or who have lost siblings to sudden infant death syndrome, and where his usual garb of cowboy boots, big hat, and jean jacket seems apropos. The ranch hosts about 90 children each year.

$7.7 million
Former President of the United States
After he left office in 2001, Clinton brought in money from speeches, books, and an advisory role at a private-equity fund. These days he earns almost all his cash from speeches, which he gives to a mixture of corporate and other clients, some of them overseas. He spends the remainder of his time on endeavors that don't earn him cash: raising funds for Democrats and running the Clinton Global Initiative and the William J. Clinton Foundation. He also earns nearly $200,000 a year from his presidential pension. He has recently been giving free speeches to help campaigning Democrats around the country, hoping to help Obama maintain a congressional majority. He also spearheaded aid efforts for Haiti, both as the U.N. special envoy and via the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. The former president's weight loss made headlines this summer at the wedding of daughter Chelsea in upstate New York. Estimates of his earnings are based on publicly available financial disclosures filed by Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.


$7.5 million
Host, Countdown with Keith Olbermann (MSNBC)
The former host of ESPN's SportsCenter developed a love of baseball from his mother. Now he's minting millions as the left's answer to Fox's Bill O'Reilly, spending much of his on-air time lambasting what he regards as a radical right-wing agenda (and interviewing a lot of NEWSWEEK reporters). Countdown brings in more than 1 million viewers each night for MSNBC. Nearly all his income is believed to come from his contract with NBC. He doesn't give many paid speeches. Most of his previous career stints have ended bitterly. He was the only host of SportsCenter not invited back for the network's 25th anniversary. His tenure at Fox as host of baseball's Game of the Week ended with Rupert Murdoch declaring, "I fired him ... He's crazy."

$7 million
Former Mayor of New York City; Founder, Giuliani Partners
Giuliani parlayed his role as America's Mayor following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks into a lucrative speaking and security-consulting career. In 2006, Forbes estimated that his speaking income was $8 million a year. These days he makes enough speeches and has enough media clout to make our list, but the bulk of his income likely comes from profits made by Giuliani Partners. Much of that money is made overseas.


$7 million
Author; host, The Laura Ingraham Show
Former Ronald Reagan speechwriter and law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas makes millions each year hurling right-wing bombs at the liberal establishment over the airwaves. The Laura Ingraham Show is broadcast for three hours each day on more than 300 stations and XM Radio with a listener base of more than 5 million. Frequent Fox News contributor and guest host of The O'Reilly Factor is believed to earn at least $20,000 per speech; a trial run as host of her own Fox show fell through in 2008. Her most recent of several books, The Obama Diaries, was published in July and became a bestseller. Talkers Magazine ranked her as the sixth-most-powerful radio-talk-show host in the country.

$5.5 million
Former speaker of the House  
Every time Gingrich stirs up a political dust storm (most recently giving credence to a Forbes magazine article suggesting President Obama's stance on business was rooted in his father's "Kenyan anticolonialism"), he earns another paycheck. He likely hauls in at least $2 million each year giving speeches, plus millions more consulting for groups such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and various coal and oil companies. He also writes political tomes and historical fiction. His most recent book is To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine. Gingrich maintains at least three offices and employs a large staff of researchers and speechwriters.

$5 million
Former secretary of state
Founded the consulting firm the Albright Group after leaving office in 2001. Today, the nation's first female secretary of state makes most of her money advising corporations on international affairs and brokering deals. She also commands at least $40,000 per speech.

$5 million
Host, The Colbert Report' (Comedy Central)
There's money in truthiness. The Colbert Report reaches more than 1.5 million people a day, bringing in a handsome $5 million salary for Colbert each year. It is unlikely he's still making significant royalties on his 2008 book, I Am America (and So Can You). Cohost of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear with Jon Stewart on the Washington Mall.

$5 million
Author; editor, The Huffington Post
Former conservative commentator has become a left-leaning Internet darling as cofounder and editor of the Huffington Post Web site. She earns the bulk of her money giving speeches, and is believed to give more than 100 a year for a starting fee of $35,000. She also earned six figures from her latest book, Third World America.


$5 million
Host, The Mark Levin Show (syndicated)
Former Reagan administration official got his start in radio as a contributor to the The Rush Limbaugh Show and The Sean Hannity Show. Today his syndicated program reaches more than 8 million listeners every week. Levin is among the most valuable radio personalities in the country, and further supplants his income with bestselling books, including Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto.


$4.5 million
Host, Hardball (MSNBC)
Pennsylvania native and former congressional staffer became one of the original political pundits of cable news. His MSNBC chatfest, Hardball, has been on the air since 1997, ­reaching an audience of nearly 600,000 each night. Almost all his income is believed to come from his contract with NBC, which he renewed in 2009 after shelving plans to run for the U.S. Senate. It is not believed he gives many paid speeches.

$4.2 million
Former president of the United States
The majority of the former president's earnings are from the advance on his new memoir, Decision Points, due out Nov. 9. Despite his stated desire to "give some speeches to replenish the ol' coffers," Bush is known to have given only a few paid speeches since leaving office in 2009--one of those in Canada, the other at a grocers' convention. Still, his per-speech fee likely exceeds $150,000. Also earns nearly $200,000 a year from his presidential pension.

$4 million
Host, Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO)
Former host of ABC's Politically Incorrect has taken his probing, group-discussion shtick to HBO, added expletives--and cashed in. The majority of his estimated earnings are derived from speaking engagements at casinos and other venues. The remainder comes from Real Time With Bill Maher.

$4 million
President of the United States
Uncle Sam pays Obama $400,000 a year to run the country. The rest he earns on his own, raking in millions of dollars a year in royalties from his two books, Dreams of My Father and The Audacity of Hope. Depending on the political climate, he could make more than $20 million a year on the speaking circuit after he leaves office. 

$4 million
Anchor, Noticiero Univision
The leading newsman at Univision reaches more than 45 million Hispanic Americans. Likely earns six figures for his syndicated weekly column, carried by more than 30 newspapers. Has published 10 books in 10 years. Univision representatives claimed Ramos's earnings estimate is inaccurate but did not provide additional information.


$3.5 million
Host, Morning Joe (MSNBC)
The former congressman from Florida is one of America's most-watched morning pundits. The Morning Joe host derives the bulk of his income from his television and radio contracts, and likely gets hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars a year more on the speaking circuit.

$3.1 million
Former editor, Newsweek International; host, Fareed Zakaria GPS (CNN)
According to Esquire, Zakaria is "the most influential foreign-policy adviser of his generation." All that hype translates into heaps of cash. Spent much of the past year as editor of Newsweek International, and also served as a NEWSWEEK and Washington Post columnist, and as host of the CNN weekly show GPS. Added more earnings with international royalties from his most recent book, The Post-American World. The real money comes from speeches: Zakaria is said to earn $75,000 per appearance, and likely gave at least 25 paid addresses last year. Recently left NEWSWEEK for Time.


$3 million
Book agent; attorney
Partner at the legendary Washington, D.C., law firm Williams & Connolly, Barnett brokers book deals for many of the other members of the newsweek Power 50, bringing in millions of dollars in advances for clients such as Barack Obama, Karl Rove, George W. Bush, and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Has a thriving business negotiating contracts for television personalities, including NBC's Brian Williams, ABC's Christiane Amanpour, and CBS's Lesley Stahl. Unlike traditional book agents, he does not personally earn a percentage of the deals he cuts on behalf of his clients.

$3 million
Former Federal Reserve chairman
America's longtime central banker started his move to private life giving speeches. Then the economy crumbled, and there was more money to be made advising those looking to survive or cash in on the crisis. Through Greenspan Associates, he consults for hedge funds and companies including Deutsche Bank. Still likely makes six figures giving perhaps a dozen speeches a year.


$3 million, Republican strategist
Luntz earns a large part of his income crafting the GOP's talking points--and millions more delivering them, together with management and motivational advice, to adoring corporate clients. But the majority of his income is derived from his tireless turns around the speaking circuit, for which he brings in an estimated $25,000 per appearance.


Halperin, $2.5 million
Writer, Time magazine; coauthor, Game Change

Heilemann , $2.5 million
Writer, New York magazine; coauthor, Game Change

Writing duo made majority of their earnings from royalties on their political page turner, Game Change, a wildly popular account of the 2008 presidential election that required at least three reprints and sold more than 350,000 hardcover copies. The two authors recently inked an estimated $5 million deal with Penguin Press to write a new book on the 2012 presidential campaign, which, like other book deals, will be paid out in installments. Each likely makes six figures from their day jobs, and thousands more giving speeches.

$2.5 million
Author, Obama's Wars; assistant managing editor, The Washington Post

The Washington Post reporter spends most of his time writing and reporting books about the inner workings of the White House. His most recent tome, Obama's Wars, was an immediate bestseller, and along with his back catalog of titles, made him $2 million during the period in question. In a normal year he is said to give at least 20 speeches for fees ranging from $12,000 to $50,000 per engagement; his speech income dropped into the hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last year as he focused on his book. Donates most of his speech income to the Woodward Walsh Foundation, which he created with his wife. Has been getting an inside look at every president since his famed Watergate investigation with Carl Bernstein; wrote three books about President George W. Bush and his inner circle handling 9/11, and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Remains an editor at The Washington Post, though he rarely writes for the paper and is paid a mere $1,200 a year. 

$2 million
Columnist, The New York Times; author 

Foreign-policy expert has leveraged his platform as a columnist for The New York Times into lucrative book deals and speaking engagements. He is one of the highest-paid speakers on the circuit, and is believed to command as much as $75,000 per speech, giving perhaps 20 a year. Royalties and international rights to Friedman's catalog of bestsellers, including The World Is Flat and From Beirut to Jerusalem, further pad his wallet. 

$2 million
Former vice president of the United States

Left politics following the 2000 presidential election to become an environmental crusader. Makes heaps of cash with every speech (though he has given much of the money away). In 2004 founded Generation Investment Management, which is focused on sustainable energy, with investor David Blood. He also serves on the boards of--and owns stock and options in--Apple and Google, and is a partner at venture-capital outfit Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Has a big stake in Current TV, a guerrilla-journalism cable network.


$2 million
Host, The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC)

The only solo female host of a daily prime-time cable-news show got her start as a radio host on left-leaning Air America Radio. Eventually became a contributor to MSNBC on The Tucker Carlson Show. Earned her own show following Keith Olbermann a few months before the presidential election in 2008. Today has more than 1 million nightly viewers; still, repeats of Hannity on Fox News in the same time slot command nearly double her audience. Nearly all her income is believed to come from her contract with NBC.

$2 million
Former editor, NEWSWEEK; host, Need to Know (PBS)

Left NEWSWEEK following the magazine's acquisition by audio mogul Sidney Harman. Earnings are combination of print and television income, portions of advances for two upcoming books, and speaking income. Meacham disputes his earnings estimate, but would not provide additional information.

$2 million
Host, Charlie Rose (PBS)

Rose acts as a kind of broker of political ideas around his PBS table, exhaustively interviewing thinkers and politicians on both sides of the aisle. The majority of his income is believed to come from Charlie Rose, which is now filmed at a studio at Bloomberg News in midtown Manhattan. Rose also serves as a contributor to CBS's 60 Minutes.

$2 million
Former adviser to President George W. Bush

"The Architect" made roughly half his money, we estimate, from the final installment of the advance for his memoir, Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight. He then leveraged the book's popularity, and his frequent appearances on Fox News, to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars on the speaking circuit. 

$1.8 million
Former national-security adviser and secretary of state

Her most visible job is as a professor at Stanford University, but the majority of Rice's earnings comes from speeches. She is believed to command as much as $50,000 per appearance, and probably even more when she goes overseas. One of George W. Bush's top advisers, she also brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past 12 months for three books: a memoir about her family, Extraordinary, Ordinary People, which was published in October 2010; a memoir about her time in the White House (likely due out sometime next year or 2012); as well as a young-adult version of the family tome. She signed the three-book deal in February 2009; the total contract was believed to exceed $2.5 million.


$1.5 million
Editor and publisher, The Cook Political Report

America's most famous political forecaster frequently appears on various networks to give pundits and viewers the pulse of the electorate, and then parlays his wonkish street cred into perhaps $1 million worth of speaking engagements each year. Additional income comes from publishing The Cook Political Report. He also earns money from NBC News as a paid contributor, and from the National Journal for a weekly column. Cook supports a staff of researchers and pollsters, and runs his publishing operation with the money earned from speeches.

$1.5 million
Democratic consultant

Masterminded Barack Obama's 2008 presidential bid, ginning up grassroots support among younger voters and unlikely Democrats in the South and West. Published election memoir The Audacity to Win in November 2009 (it has sold a mere 57,000 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan), and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars on the speaking circuit recounting the two years he spent with the president on the campaign trail. The bulk of Plouffe's earnings come from his day job as senior adviser at AKPD Message and Media.

$1.3 million
Editor, The New Yorker

Chief of the liberal Northeast's favorite weekly magazine spends most of his time--and earns most of his money--overseeing the editing of the long narratives, profiles, and investigative articles in The New Yorker. Found the time to write his sixth book, the Obama biography The Bridge, which was published in April to rave reviews. Still, it sold less than 100,000 copies. It is unlikely he delivers many speeches, given his writing and editing responsibilities. 

$1.1 million
Syndicated columnist; analyst, CNN 

Ascot-adoring analyst is one of the savviest political entrepreneurs around. Earns gobs of cash each year giving speeches, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars in television (CNN), print, and radio income. Published a paperback, The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin, in January. Also hosts TV One network's Washington Watch With Roland Martin

$1 million
Founder and editor in chief, Daily Beast

The editor, who became a household name after glamorous stints at the helm of The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, took her talents online in 2008, launching the Daily Beast, a Barry Diller-backed site focused on politics, culture, and entertainment. It got some initial buzz as the publication chosen by Christopher Buckley, son of renowned conservative William F. Buckley, to announce he would be supporting Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race. Brown, a Brit by birth and author of the Princess Diana biography The Diana Chronicles, also receives income as an occasional speaker. 


$1 million
Former vice president of the United States

Cheney spent much of his first few years out of office writing his upcoming memoir, which is being published early next year by Mary Matalin's Simon & Schuster imprint, Threshold Editions. The book reportedly earned Cheney a $2 million advance (which is paid in chunks). Arguably the most powerful vice president in American history, he could make more money on the speaking circuit; however, recent health problems have kept him off the road for the most part.


$1 million
Host, The McLaughlin Group

Priest turned speechwriter for President Nixon has been hosting The McLaughlin Group since 1982, making him one of the longest-running political talk-show hosts in America. The syndicated Sunday-morning program features McLaughlin firing off sometimes serious, sometimes ridiculous questions to two groups of pundits, one from the left (usually including newsweek columnist Eleanor Clift) and one from the right (usually including MSNBC analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan). Calls to McLaughlin's office seeking comment were not returned. 

$1 million
Former secretary of state

The heady earning days of the former U.S. Army general and head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff may be behind him. It was estimated Powell commanded as much as $90,000 per speech after resigning his secretary of state post in 2004. Though he still makes occasional appearances on the podium, his time is largely devoted to being a board member on the Council of Foreign Relations, medical-information provider Revolution Health, and as a limited partner at the venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Disputes the notion that he is a political entrepreneur and that he belongs on this list. According to his spokesperson, "You seem determined to include him on some list and are searching for any rationale, no matter how farfetched, to include him."


$1 million
Host, Piolín por la Mañana 

Mexican-born host of the morning talk show Piolín por la Mañana, which commands one of the largest Spanish-speaking audiences in radio. Offers daily commentary on immigration over the airwaves, and makes various appearances on CNN, Fox News, ABC, and MSNBC. Nearly all his income is believed to come from radio. A Univision representative suggested Sotelo "uses this platform to ensure Hispanics are well informed and empowered to have their voices heard through their civic participation," but said our earnings estimate was inaccurate. The rep did not provide additional information. 

$1 million
Managing editor, Time magazine

Served as an adviser and speechwriter for Sen. Bill Bradley during his 2000 presidential campaign. Left his role as chief of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia in 2006 to become Time's managing editor. The bulk of his earnings in the last 12 months are believed to come from his Time salary. He is not thought to give a large number of paid speeches. Has published three books: January Sun, You're Too Kind: A Brief History of Flattery, and Mandela's Way.

Columnist, The New York Times; economics professor, Princeton University

The left's leading economist makes much of his earnings from his twice-weekly column in The New York Times, where he has been pushing for higher taxes on the rich and a much larger stimulus package for several years. He earns at least $180,000 a year as a tenured professor at Princeton. Other income: perhaps $150,000 in speaking and book earnings. He also likely earned a small fee for appearing in the Russell Brand rock-and-roll comedy Get Him to the Greek

Editor, Threshold Editions (an imprint of Simon & Schuster); analyst, CNN

The former adviser and consultant to Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush devotes much of her time to editing the memoirs and ideological tomes of right-leaning authors. Among her clients: Dick Cheney, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Karl Rove. Still appears as a CNN political analyst on election nights with husband James Carville. She is not believed to be a very active paid speaker since the couple moved to Louisiana a few years ago. Matalin disputed her earnings estimate, but would not provide additional information. 

Pundit; political strategist

Talking-point machine makes at least $500,000 on the speaking circuit each year, giving loaded speeches on modern conservatism, gay marriage, and what she perceives as liberal hypocrisy to adoring right-leaning audiences. Pulls in several hundred thousand dollars more from royalties and advances on her various books. Her most recent, Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America, was published in January 2009, and has sold more than 120,000 hardcover copies to date, according to Nielsen BookScan. 

Senior adviser to the president

With David Plouffe, Axelrod helped catapult Barack Obama to the White House in 2008. He is now one of the president's closest advisers (and best spinmeisters). He will likely leave his official role in the administration following the midterm elections to run the president's reelection campaign. Earns a $172,200 salary from the U.S. government; the remainder of his earnings are payouts from Chicago-based Democratic consultancies ASK Public Strategies and AKPD Message and Media, where he was a partner until he joined the administration in 2009.