The other day one of my coder buddies and I were having a discussion about getting a site to look right in IE, and he says to me, "Semantics trumps presentation." ...
Maybe I'm missing something here, but when I go to a website, I'm looking at the PRESENTATION, not the code. Yeah yeah, good code is important, yadda yadda, but let's take off our geekster hats for a minute and look at the real world of the web. When someone comes to your website, and it doesn't LOOK good, they're gone - and gone waaaaaay before they have a chance to scroll down and see your W3C compliancy badges at the bottom of the page.
Let's focus on good design that works. That should be the focus of any site out there. Is the design working for the site? "Working" could mean driving sales, encouraging feedback, conveying information, or whatever the purpose of the site is. Nobody cares what the markup is - it's the presentation that matters. Get the presentation where it ought to be, then go under the hood and tune the engine. And if the only way to adjust the carbeurator is with a piece of wire, then more power to ya.