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2010's most provocative celebrity is...

By Sid Lipsey, HLN's "Showbiz Tonight"
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This year's most provocative celeb is...
  • HLN's "Showbiz Tonight" announces its Most Provocative Celebrity of 2010
  • 2010 has been a wild year of cheating, preening, melting down and flipping off
  • Some of this year's nominees were Mel Gibson, Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus

Watch "Showbiz Tonight" at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. EST on HLN.

New York (CNN) -- 2010 has been a wild year filled with cheating celebrity husbands (Jesse James, Tiger Woods and, allegedly, Tony Parker), Alaska's former first family-turned-reality show stars (the Palins), and out-of-control fist-pumping "Jersey Shore" cast members (take your pick). But in picking "Showbiz Tonight's" Most Provocative Celebrity of the Year, we asked ourselves four questions:

• Who provoked the most visceral reaction?
• Who provoked the most continuous shock and outrage?
• Who generated the most continued interest throughout the year?
• Who had the most lasting impact?

So in a year full of celebrity provocateurs, here are the top nominees for "Showbiz Tonight's" Most Provocative Celebrity of the Year:

Lindsay Lohan: Lindsay spent the year paying the proverbial piper for her spotty compliance with the probation she received for her 2007 DUI arrests. Her missed court dates and her inappropriate behavior when she did show up in court (who can forget the naughty message scribbled on her fingernails during a June appearance), landed her in the news almost daily. Even after she served 14 days in jail this summer for her probation violation, Lohan let loose with another shocker: in September, she announced on her Twitter page that she'd failed a court-ordered drug test. Lohan's ending the year in rehab, leaving some to speculate (and hope) that this may be the last year we see her on the Most Provocative list.

Gaga wins most provocative celeb of 2010
Lohan ticked off at CNN?

Miley Cyrus: Miley spent 2010 hell-bent on destroying her squeaky-clean "Hannah Montana" image. Her wardrobe became increasingly skimpy, her on-stage performances became increasing risqué (she simulated a girl-on-girl kiss during a June concert), and the music videos in support of her new album, appropriately titled "Can't Be Tamed," became increasingly steamy. In October, the Parents Television Council slammed Miley, saying in a statement: "Miley built her fame and fortune entirely on the backs of young girls, and it saddens us that she seems so eager to distance herself from that fan base so rapidly." But Miley, who turned 18 in November, has shown no remorse for her controversial march to adulthood. Who knows how far the now-adult Miley will push the envelope in 2011.

Mel Gibson: The memories of the anti-Semitic remarks Gibson made during his 2006 DUI arrest were still painfully fresh this year when this superstar's reputation took another major hit this July. Radar Online posted explosive audio recordings of a man who sounded an awful lot like Gibson making angry, racist and sexist comments to his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. The year ended with Gibson being investigated for alleged domestic violence against Grigorieva (she's also under investigation for allegedly trying to extort Gibson).

Charlie Sheen: Sheen's reputation as a bulletproof Hollywood bad boy became legendary in 2010. The year began with Sheen accused of assaulting his wife, Brooke Mueller, on Christmas Day 2009. But in August, he struck a plea deal that critics blasted as a slap on the wrist (he was sentenced to probation, anger management and rehab). In October, right as his probation term was ending, Sheen got into another scrape: he allegedly trashed a New York City hotel room after a wild night with his escort, porn star Capri Anderson. But between scandals, Sheen infuriated his critics again: he signed a deal in May that keeps him on his hit sitcom, "Two and a Half Men," for two more seasons -- and makes him the highest paid actor on television! Is Sheen an example of a bad boy finishing first?

And "Showbiz Tonight's" Most Provocative Celebrity of the Year is:

Lady Gaga: Even without her massive record sales and recent Grammy nominations, Lady Gaga was a force this year. She constantly made headlines with her too-wild-to-imagine antics (flipping off photographers at a New York Mets baseball game in June; wearing a dress made out of meat to the MTV Video Music Awards in September). But what makes Gaga the year's Most Provocative Celebrity is the sheer impact of her antics. In 2010 she dominated cyberspace, becoming the most followed person on Twitter and the first artist to reach a billion video views on YouTube. And Lady Gaga wasn't afraid to use her massive platform to effect social change. She led campaigns to stop bullying and to end the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. For making headlines, provoking strong love-her-or-hate-her reactions, and, in effect, taking over the world this year, Lady Gaga is "Showbiz Tonight's" Most Provocative Celebrity of 2010.