PHP is popular because it is geared for the server-side web scripting lang, and simpler and easy to use, than popular free alternatives at the time (such as Perl and Java's JSP).
Python became popular primarily because its ease-to-read syntax.
Btween the two, PHP is much easier to use, and much a pleasure to program in. Python is a pain in the ass.
PHP is functional. The language is not elegant, lots of inconsistancies. However, it's a joy to use for any practical task in its web scripting field. PHP has one of the best documentation among open source computer languages, i'd say top 5.
Python is a twist, with half-assed lambda, a culty community thinking "computer science R us", and it has this OOP obsession. The Guido guy do not understand functional programing, but has the pleasure to actitively badmouth it.
• Language, Purity, Cult, and Deception
• What Languages to Hate
• Lambda in Python 3000
• Python Documentation Problems
• Examples Of Quality Documentation In The Computing Industry
• Xah's Perl and Python Tutorial
• Xah's PHP Tutorial