The Best of 2008: Counting Down ABC News' Most Popular Stories

Ledger was found dead in his Manhattan apartment. The actor, who had recently separated from actress Michelle Williams, his former fiancee and mother of his 2-year-old daughter, is expected to be remembered as one of the best of his generation. He got an Oscar nomination for playing a gay cowboy in "Brokeback Mountain" and is generating Oscar buzz again for his role as Joker in the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight."

Other stars who died young include singer Aaliyah, rap star Tupac Shakur and actors James Dean and River Phoenix.

Read the story Gone Before 30: Stars Who Died Young.

Obama's Pastor: 'God Damn America'

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who was President-elect Barack Obama's pastor for 20 years at the Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's South Side, has a long history of what even Obama's campaign aides conceded was "inflammatory rhetoric," including the assertion that the United States brought on the Sept. 11 attacks with its own "terrorism."

Wright married Obama and his wife, Michelle, baptized their two daughters and is credited by Obama for the title of his book "The Audacity of Hope."

An ABC News review of dozens of Wright's sermons, offered for sale by the church, found repeated denunciations of the United States based on what he described as his reading of the Gospels and the treatment of black Americans.

"The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

Read the story: Obama's Pastor: God Damn America, U.S. to Blame for 9/11.

Obama: McCain Scoring 'Cheap Points'

Then-Sen. Barack Obama told ABC News' Charlie Gibson that the personal attacks levied against him by the campaign of his presidential rival, Sen. John McCain, particularly references to his association with 1960s anti-war radical Bill Ayers, were an attempt to "score cheap political points."

"Why don't we just clear it up right now," Obama told Gibson in an exclusive interview for "World News". "I'll repeat again what I've said many times. This is a guy who engaged in some despicable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old. By the time I met him, 10 or 15 years ago, he was a college professor of education at the University of Illinois. ... And the notion that somehow he has been involved in my campaign, that he is an adviser of mine, that . . . I've 'palled around with a terrorist,' all these statements are made simply to try to score cheap political points."

Obama said that the McCain campaign is making personal attacks "the centerpiece of the discussion in the closing weeks of a campaign where we are facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and we're in the middle of two wars."

Read the story: Obama: McCain Scoring 'Cheap Political Points' .

Watch the video: Obama Speaks on Market Turmoil.

Read the full transcript: Full Excerpts: Charles Gibson Interviews Barack Obama.

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