The federal government was hammered in the press (and the polls) following last week’s aborted leadership challenge. Prime MinisterJulia Gillard remains atop our list of most covered pollies in the media, and is now doing her level best to show her government is back in control, with an announcement on troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

Those beneath Gillard on our chart tell the story of the leadership spill that wasn’t and reflects the charcuterie of cabinet ministers and Labor MPs who subsequently fell on their swords. Speculation has been rife about how the drama unfolded between the Rudd camp and party elder Simon Crean.

Of the Rudd supporters who stepped up to step down, of course the real fallout is the considerable loss of talent in and around cabinet: Chris Bowen, Martin Ferguson, Kim Carr, Richard Marles. And with Gary Gray replacing Ferguson as the link to the resources sector and a fleet of other juniors stepping up, the opposition has been quick to label the new look an L-plate cabinet.

The fact that more than three-quarters of our top 20 this week are Labor MPs mired by controversy must be a sure sign for Tony Abbott that the work of Pope Francis has already begun; Abbott will be counting his blessings all the way to the September 14 election.

Crikey Political Index: March 20-27

Talkback discussion about the failed leadership challenge was prominent in the days following.

Talkback top five

Social media platform Twitter was frantic with streaming tweets about the leadership spill as Crean’s presser unfolded. Speculation continued well into the evening.

Social media top five

Mark Webber was cheated of a Formula One win by his teammate Sebastian Vettel, who ignored team instructions to bolt for the line. Kind of echoes the week in Australian politics.

Comparisons on media mentions