According to Bill Kristol and Rick Santorum and other conservatives, there's one reason for a surge in American support for gay marriage: television. But the question is: Which television show? Which television show was it that convinced the majority of Americans to support gay marriage?

We've compiled the various contenders, as nominated by conservative pundits, and subjected them to rigorous scientific and data analysis. And we're pleased to announce that we've identified it.

The Contenders

Friends
Suggested by: Conservative pundit Bill Kristol

In a recently released Weekly Standard podcast, Kristol identified two shows that he believes were part of the cultural avalanche that pulled the wool over America's eyes. Think Progress transcribed what he said:

I myself am socially conservative on the marriage issue but even if you’re not, just say what you believe and let the country decide…. This kind of pathetic attempt of ‘Oh my god, young people especially are liberal so let’s just rush to cater to them.’ As if they’re going to respect you if you just embrace the views of some 26-year-old who doesn’t know anything honestly. Can’t adults say young people are sometimes wrong? […]

Gee, this TV show is popular so let’s just throw over thousands of years of history and what the great religions teach and let’s just embrace it because, hey, you don’t want to be on the other side from a TV show that has 20 million viewers.

Twenty-six year-olds were seven when the show came out, which may explain why they don't know anything.

Peak ratings: 24.5 million

Most popular scene on YouTube:

Here, Joey dresses up like Chandler for Halloween, which certainly reinforces Kristol's point.

Dharma and Greg
Suggested by: Also Bill Kristol

Peak ratings: 15.76 million

Most popular scene on YouTube:

This, from the pilot, shows two "hippies" raising their daughter as a hippie. This show provided liberal indoctrination from the very first minute it aired.

Will and Grace
Suggested by: Richard "Rick" Santorum

Santorum identified the popular early-2000s show in a speech at CPAC, though most people didn't notice it until it became part of this (odd) video.

Unlike the wishy-washy William "Bill" Kristol, Santorum isn't bashful about the show that is to blame. Will and Grace featured several gay characters, which almost certainly increased its advocacy exponentially.

Peak ratings: 17.3 million

Most popular scene on YouTube:

This is Madonna getting "past first base" with one of the show's female stars. Rick Santorum clearly knows what he's talking about.

The New Normal
Suggested by: One Million Moms

One Million Moms, the advocacy organization comprised of several thousand moms, identified The New Normal as the culprit last year. Which is impressive, since it was also the show's first season. According to Advocate.com, the group wrote:

NBC's The New Normal is attempting to desensitize America and our children. It is the opposite of how families are designed and created. You cannot recreate the biological wheel.

Which makes sense, if you really think about it.

Ratings: 3.6 million (last week)

Most popular scene on YouTube:

This clip shows two men interviewing a surrogate mother. Which is actually a reflection of a subset of some same-sex relationships! Well played, A Few Thousand Moms.

The Simpsons
Suggested by: Brent Bozell of the Parents Television Council

In 2005, the long running show was in its 50th season, or thereabouts, and featured one of Marge Simpsons' sisters marrying a woman. Bozell didn't like it.

"At a time when the public mood is overwhelmingly against gay marriage, any show that promotes gay marriage is deliberately bucking the public mood," he said.

"I'd rather them not do it at all," he added. "You've got a show watched by millions of children. Do children need to have gay marriage thrust in their faces as an issue? Why can't we just entertain them?"

Clearly now that gay marriage is popular, Bozell will embrace a broad expansion of the coverage of gay marriage in television production. As long as it is not thrust into faces.

Peak ratings: 18.4 million ("Bart Gets an F")

Most popular scene on YouTube:

Seriously. This is The Simpsons' most viewed clip that can also be embedded. The Harlem Shake. And here some people think that gay marriage is bringing about the downfall of modern society.

Glee
Suggested by: Bristol Palin

When President Obama announced that he'd recently completed his evolution on gay marriage, it took one of the great champions of traditional relationships to call him out. Palin, the daughter of one-time Alaska governor Sarah Palin, suggested that gay marriage support was the fault of Fox, her mother's then-employer. Jezebel quoted her Facebook post:

Sometimes dads should lead their family in the right ways of thinking. In this case, it would've been nice if the President would've been an actual leader and helped shape their thoughts instead of merely reflecting what many teenagers think after one too many episodes of Glee.

It is not clear how many episodes of Glee one may watch without suddenly capitulating your long held values; if you know, please leave it in the comments.

Peak ratings: 26.8 million

Most popular scene on YouTube:

"Don't Stop Believin'" was also the song playing when that great defender of traditional families, Tony Soprano, was murdered. Think about it.

The Responsible Show

There are a few considerations we looked at. Peak ratings, of course, since that meant the highest number of people being brain-washed. Then there are the demographics of gay marriage support. Since a higher percentage of young people are in favor of same-sex nuptials, it stands to reason that newer shows may have played a bigger role.

Once we put all of the data into our supercomputer, however, we were surprised by the result. It turns out that none of these pundits were correct. It turns out that gay marriage is now broadly supported because people watched Walker, Texas Ranger. Here's that show's most popular clip:

Walker wrestles a bear. We rest our case.

(Top image via Flick user videocrab.)