tedster - 2:46 am on Dec 8, 2010 (gmt 0)
Worked well enough that these days I don't bother with meta statements on new sites.
Google is gang-busters right now rewriting titles and generating their own snippets, ignoring meta-descriptions. The rewriting is query specific, so you can still get some "control" over how the listing looks for your most targeted query terms, but it's nothing like it used to be.
It seems clear that title, meta description and H1 are some of the high-level shards that Google indexes as back end meta-data in their system. If these elements diverge too far from what their data says makes a good result, your expressed preferences will not be honored. That said, I was explroing this rewriting a good bit today, and often Imust admit Google's rewrites do make sense.
Having these three elements as unique on your page is probably still a crawling/indexing help - but most of all it seems to take PR.