So now that Chris, Common Iowan and Drew Miller have done it, I'll add my significantly less optimistic hot list. Mine are ranked in order, and I'll try to add a bit of insight on why but I'll keep it brief. I'm also not including candidates who have withdrawn, because I don't see the point.
No one. In my mind, I have to be excited about having you as president to rank you as hot. There are several candidates I feel would be ok or don't know enough about.
Edwards: I feel he's more flash than substance, but others who have spent more time with him tell me there's a good heart buried somewhere underneath that fake smile.
Clark: I feel like his real opportunity was four years ago, not now, but I feel that someone with military experience could be the one who engenders public trust from both sides on defense issues.
Biden: I played pool with him in August. He's got a ton of experience and he's loaded with ideas. He did vote for the war, which is a drawback, and he absolutely cannot under any circumstances stop talking long enough for someone else to finish a sentence, but there's a real substance in him that I haven't seen with anyone else I've met.
TEMPERATURE UNTESTED (these are in no particular order):
I've had at least six people tell me they're supporting Obama even though they can't tell me one thing he stands for. That's infuriating. He's the "it" candidate right now, and a popular pick for sure. But when he's exposed in prime time to a nationwide audience, if he doesn't walk on water he'll be seen as a disappointment.
Kerry and Gore: I lump these two together because they fit the same criteria: well funded candidates who couldn't beat the least popular president of my lifetime. Whether the perceptions about them are true or not, they're set in stone now and no amount of bad jokes about Iraq or movies about global warming can change them.
Vilsack: I think he looks and acts presidential. I think I disagree with him on many/most issues and I think he's fiscally irresponsible. If Dennis Kucinich had looked and spoken like Tom Vilsack, he may have been taken seriously in his run for President. If Vilsack looked and sounded like Dennis Kucinich, he never would have been elected to the State Senate.
Richardson: Seems entirely unwilling to look the part. Broke out of a meeting with journalists and bloggers no less than 5 times in 10 minutes to converse with bystanders in Spanish. And if Vilsack is fiscally irresponsible, Richardson is fiscally criminal...we're talking about the guy who gave up state money to build a spaceport in New Mexico.
Clinton: In an election year where you couldn't throw a briefcase full of cash without hitting a presidential candidate raising money for another candidate, Clinton was conspicuously absent and unwilling to help out. Furthermore, due to some past transgressions, if she ran head-to-head against Satan, she'd only pull down about 55% of the vote. She'll have the money necessary to hire staff to run a campaign in Iowa if she chooses to do so, but she won't get the kind of big name endorsements others will, and she'll be seen as a major disappointment when she finishes third or worse.