Nov. 5, 2008 -- Oprah is unleashed!
With the election won by the candidate she endorsed off air and stayed mum about on her talk show, Winfrey finally admitted from the stage of her Chicago-based show a day after Barack Obama was elected president what everybody already knew: She's a staunch Obama supporter.
And in true Oprah fashion, she whooped, hollered and cried as if she herself had won the election.
Taking the stage wearing a T-shirt that read "Hope Won" beneath a bright red sweater, and waving a flag in one hand and the cover of the Chicago Sun Times with the headline "Mr. President" in the other, Winfrey screamed, "I have two words for you, America: Mr. President.
"During this long campaign, I made a vow at the beginning I would not use my show as a platform, and I kept my mouth shut and supported Barack Obama as a private citizen," she told her audience during a live taping of the show Wednesday morning. "Today, though, the election is over and I'm unleashed."
Winfrey went "out on a limb" last May when she publicly endorsed Obama during an appearance on Larry King's CNN show. In September 2007, the media mogul hosted a fundraiser at her Promised Land estate in California, raking in more than $3 million for Obama's White House bid. And last December she hit the campaign trail with the Democratic candidate, making appearances alongside him in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire.
Her public support cost her some of her viewers, who posted comments on her Web site calling her "ignorant" and a "traitor" for backing Obama over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.
"You know, for so long I've felt a connection to Oprah and all that she's done not only for women but the world in general. She was such an idol to me, and I truly loved all that she stood for. Since she threw her support behind Barack Obama I felt like she let me down," wendykwrit posted in January.
A CBS poll last August showed that Orpah's favorability rating had dropped from 74 percent to 61 percent. And in AOL TV popularity survey, 47 percent of respondents said they would like to have dinner with talk show host Ellen Degeneres, while 14 percent chose Winfrey.
The Oprah Winfrey Effect
On Wednesday's show, Winfrey addressed viewers like wendykwrit. "For those of you who have been loyal viewers who voted differently than I and 52 percent of the country did, I respect your choice and understand how you might be feeling disappointed today just as I might be," she said. "If this was not the outcome, I would be doing this show from Northwestern Hospital [in Chicago] with a drip today."
"But my deepest hope is in the days and weeks ahead, we will come together with the same renewed spirit that we took to the polls because we need each other now more than ever," Winfrey continued.
Winfrey, accompanied by her partner Stedman Graham, joined the thousands of people massed on Grant Park in Chicago to celebrate Obama's win. She described it as "the most electrifying and emotional night I have ever experienced."
Earlier on Tuesday, Winfrey told Robin Roberts from "Good Morning America" that she had no regrets about throwing her weight behind Obama.
"I told everybody who knew me if he ever ran, I would put everything I had at stake to support him because there's a wonderful Bible passage that says 'What does it do to gain the world and lose your soul?'" she said. "And I knew that in this moment in time, in my lifetime, I would have lost a piece of my soul had I not stood up for him. So I'm happy I happen to be on the right side of history. But if this had not turned out the way we all wanted it to, it was still the right thing for me to do in the moment I did it."
Asked by Roberts if she can take credit for helping him win, Winfrey was quick to reply, "I'm certainly not responsible."
A December ABC/Washington Post poll backed up Winfrey's assertion. Only 8 percent of Democrats said they were persuaded by her Obama endorsement, 82 percent said it wouldn't matter either way and 10 percent said her recommendation had turned them off Obama.
Winfrey also shared with Roberts her experience of voting early last week. Winfrey struck up a conversation with some women at a drug rehab center across from her polling place. "It was great," she said, "great because for many of them it was the first time voting and they were proud, proud to be there. And I thought, 'Listen, we'll take the drug addicts' vote.'"
Here's what some other celebrities had to say about President-elect Obama:
Tina Fey, who brought some of the highest ratings to "Saturday Night Live" with her Sarah Palin impersonations, talked about the experience on Thursday's Oprah Winfrey Show.
"I'm really happy I did it," she said. "It was a wonderful chance to go home again and be with my friends at Saturday Night Live."
But, now that the election is over, so are Fey's days playing Palin. Fey told Oprah: "I think I'm going to pack up my wig."
Singer Beyonce vowed the day after Obama's victory to be at his service.
"I'm there. I can't wait. I feel like all of us, we're ready to do whatever we have to do," she told the Associated Press. "Whatever they want -- if they need me to volunteer, they need me to sing, I'm there, and I'm ready. I've never been so patriotic!"
After going with hubby Jay-Z, Diddy, Mary J. Blige and others to states like Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio just before the election, Beyonce watched the returns Tuesday night with family and friends in her home.
"I fell asleep crying and smiling at the same time," she laughed. "I woke up with mascara running and a smile on my face!"
Will Smith grew teary on the set of the Oprah show Thursday while discussing Obama's win. "I was raised to believe that that could happen," Smith told Winfrey. "Nobody is better than you and anything you want, you set your mind to it and you go for it period. I've always carried myself as if I was deserving of that position. The history of African Americans is such that you want to be part of America, but we've been rejected so much. At that second, at that moment (that Obama won), all of our excuses were gone."
"I was done," Smith said about the moment Obama was declared victor. He rolled around Winfrey's stage to demonstrate just how overcome with emotion he was. "My daughter was sitting on my lap, Jaden was sitting beside me, holding my hand and Trey was standing behind me. Barack gave his speech and I just lost it."
Paris Hilton told "Extra" on Wednesday that she's ready to forget about the "old, white-haired dude." Used in a McCain ad to compare her celebrity to Obama's, Hilton appeared to be firmly in the Obama camp. "It's so exciting," she said. "I was so happy. I had all my friends over last night and we were watching the acceptance speech….I think the world is going to be a better place."
Leo DiCaprio told reporters in Rome at the Italian premiere of his movie "Body of Lies," that he stayed up all night watching the election. "I couldn't be more proud of my country right now and proud of being an American ... I feel overwhelmed and I feel a tremendous weight has been lifted from my shoulders," the "Titanic" star said.
Hip-hop music and fashion mogul Russell Simmons said in a statement to the Associated Press that Obama's election was "a clear reflection of hip-hop politics."
"While many older Americans, who marched and struggled so hard so Senator Obama could run for president of the United States never dared to believe in his candidacy's real potential, young people, particularly the hip-hop community, had faith and their imagination became our reality," Simmons wrote.
Whoopi Goldberg from ABC's "The View" was excited by the prospect of having what appears to be a happily married couple in the White House. "It's exciting," she said on Tuesday's show. "There's going to be some action in the White House. I think there's going to be a whole lot of whoopie going on."