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My question for you is, what CMS would you think is capable of handling www.yelp.com, www.homeaway.com, and www.howstuffworks.com?
I figure this is the easiest place to start...asking for what CMS you believe is capable of handling these heavily used sites.
You would need to customize anything you got, so it may not be totally fair to compare them off the shelf. It would really depend on the routines you had running in addition to the CMS.
Barack Obama ran his campaign sites off MovableType. I've seen other impressive sites run off Drupal like The Onion. I don't know how heavy those sites were in terms of database load though.
WP can certainly handle that sort of load - Wordpress.com just runs on WordpressMU (which, not counting the multi-domain wrapper, will be fully merged with Wordpress for version 2.9 or 3.0).
To see what Worpdress.com is serving with their own dogfood.