You've waited for what seems like forever, and now your patience has finally been rewarded. No, I'm not talking about yesterday's inauguration festivities. It's time to announce the winners of the 2008 Fool Awards!

While I'm proud to announce that the winner of the Most Gratuitous Reference to Alicia Silverstone Award goes to my Foolish colleague Anand Chokkavelu, you're probably more interested in the 10 other categories we announced two weeks ago. So, without any further ado, here are the winners you chose.

Best CEO
In a landslide, recently retired BB&T (NYSE:BBT) CEO John Allison proves that not every executive in the financial industry has a bad reputation. He took a commanding 56% of the vote, leaving Ford (NYSE:F) CEO Alan Mulally and three others in the dust.

Biggest Surprise
Clearly, 2008 was a year in which investors got surprise overload. Volatile markets, unprecedented government intervention, and global liquidity troubles all gave way to the surprise of the year: the collapses of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, which took 36% of the vote.

Biggest Opportunity
Voters voiced a strong difference of opinion about two polar-opposite strategies for responding to the bear market. The results tell the tale, though: Short-selling beat out cheap stocks as the biggest opportunity of the year, 40% to 32%.

Must-Read of the Year
When Warren Buffett speaks, people listen. That held true in this Fool Award category as well, where the Omaha Oracle's article in The New York Times advocating the value of stocks during the October panic drew both praise and controversy. He also drew the votes, taking home the award with a 45% share.

Most Socially Responsible
In our first nail-biter of the evening, two well-known natural-food companies squared off. Despite a more national focus and arguably better name recognition, Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFMI) came up short with 41% of the vote, compared with winner Green Mountain Coffee Roasters' (NASDAQ:GMCR) 42%.

Most Promising New Technology
With advances in energy, communications, and computer technology, there was no shortage of competition in this category. Despite the mass appeal of green energy, the Fool Award goes to advances in cloud computing that have made web browsers increasingly powerful tools for business productivity.

Financial Mind of the Year
All five nominees in this category got a healthy following, and it's not hard to understand why. Each saw the bear coming, though each responded in a different way. For making the bear call from within the Wall Street establishment, however, Meredith Whitney eked out a win in this category with 25% of the vote.

Biggest Game-Changer
Who could have guessed a year ago that you'd have to pick from five such profound nominees in this category? Nationalized banks, the death of investment banks, and the emergence of deflation all took second fiddle to the winner here: the freeze-up in the mortgage securities market that arguably started this whole mess, earning 45% of all votes.

Most Foolish Product
This category gave readers another squeaker and laid a death blow on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and its favored App Store. Instead, the Tesla Roadster beat out the Wii Fit 27% to 25%.

Overall Most Foolish
In a battle that included two Berkshire Hathaway clones, also-rans like Disney and Google didn't have a chance. Voters ended up siding with Markel (NYSE:MKL) over Canadian Fairfax Financial (NYSE:FFH), 37% to 28%.

With that, let's all say our last goodbyes to what was hopefully the worst year investors will see for the rest of their lives, and look forward to a brighter, more prosperous 2009!

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger won the Most Likely To Wear a Pocket Protector Forever Award back in high school, but he's already proved those jocks wrong. He owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Markel and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Whole Foods Market, Berkshire Hathaway, and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. BB&T is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. The Fool owns shares of Markel and Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool's disclosure policy deserves an award for something -- we just haven't figured out what yet.