I don't think this is hero worship at all. I think it is a visceral, positive response to his message, reinforced by successful weight loss. Let me explain.
DISCLAIMER: I have matured in my low carb way of eating and thinking. I have given up on several of Taubes' ideas, because they didn't jive with my experience. I believe calories count, that exercise matters, that there are safe carbs, and I am following the Perfect Health Diet version of low carb eating now. I believe that we have confused an obesity cure (cutting carbs) with an obesity cause (carbs are fattening). Just because cutting carbs can cure obesity does not mean that carbs cause obesity (thank you, Chris Kresser, for expressing this idea). I eat about 100 grams of carbohydrates per day, mostly from whole milk yogurt or safe starches such as rice and potatoes. I have also lost almost 60 pounds thanks to the low carb way of eating, and Gary Taubes introduced me to it, for which I am very grateful. Even though I no longer believe some of what he wrote, he had a powerful influence on my life, for the better.
Okay, now the explanation. I don't know if Paul Jaminet or Emily Deans or Beth Mazur have ever been obese or not, though I suspect they have not. Taubes' message rings true if you have struggled, unsuccessfully, with weight for a long time. I have struggled through thick and, sometimes, thin, for most of my life. I have been about 100 pounds overweight, lost that on Weight Watchers, regained it (very embarrassing), and despaired about ever being able to achieve a normal weight. I was about to give up, when a post on InstaPundit.com linked to Why We Get Fat. I downloaded the book from Audible.com, but didn't immediately get around to listening to it, until the 12th and 13th of February, 2011.
Taubes gave an explanation for obesity that didn't focus on me being a slothful glutton. He provided a rational that led me to believe my metabolism was broken, and that I had been lied to by the low fat, high carb establishment, including Weight Watchers. I clearly remember listening to this explanation with my jaw slack. It was something completely different than anything I had ever heard, and it put the blame on insulin rather than on my weak will and base desires. No wonder Weight Watchers failed! According to Taubes, I was starving at a cellular level! On Valentine's day, I started eating low carb and I lost 11 pounds in the first two weeks. Success! I had personal evidence that what Taubes said worked, and I was firm in the belief that I had been fat for reasons other than my weak will and abnormal appetite. Further, the low carb diet slayed my hunger demons and made it possible for me to go about the day, without obsessing on food, just as Taubes said. He had great credibility with me, and I bought and devoured Good Calories, Bad Calories and had several epiphanies reading that. Such as the whole Ancel Keys story on the demonization of saturated fat. I was hooked.
Only later did I realize that some of his ideas were not scientifically grounded, that he was a theorist, not an empiricist. I discovered alternative voices, such as Kurt Harris, Paul Jaminet, and Jenny Ruhl, all of whom viewed low carbing differently than Taubes. I have gradually changed my view of some of Taubes' ideas, but it took a long time for the halo effect to wear off. It still hasn't worn off completely, and I am grateful Taubes exposed the whole "fat is bad" line of reasoning and that he introduced me to the low carb way of eating.
To an obese person, Taubes' message resonates powerfully, even viscerally. When you experiment on what he said, you get immediate, substantial results. No wonder so many people think so highly of him.
Right or wrong, that is why he has a lot of followers and that is why he is such a big name in the low carb community.