Never let it be said that the $160-plus million that Meg Whitman spent on her record-shattering gubernatorial campaign didn't bear at least some returns: If the good folks at Google are to be believed, that money elevated her to a level of political celebrity that even national GOP headline-makers Scott Brown, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio couldn't match.
Last week, Google released its annual Zeitgeist report, which outlines the search giant's most popular searches in a number of different categories.
Although Whitman didn't crack the mainstream quite like Justin Bieber did, she did place second in the political category to Nikki Haley, whose search volume blasted through the roof around the time she was accused of having an affair with a conservative blogger last spring.
Coming in just behind Whitman were three other Republicans whose names have made national headlines this year: Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and senators-elect Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida.
Whitman's search volume peaked around a few key periods: the primary election in June, which she won handily; her general election defeat in November; and the late-September/early-October span, when it was revealed that she formerly employed an illegal immigrant housekeeper.
Two other Golden State politicians also made Google's top 10 list: Sen. Barbara Boxer, who survived a re-election challenge from former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, placed eighth; and outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, placed 10th.
See the full list here: