I've been puzzled by the hype too, and have written about it a little on use.perl.org. Pretty much all of Ruby on Rails has been available in perl since before Rails became public, albeit not in such a well-documented and heavilly promoted form.
My current theory is that most of the cheerleaders are people who have never seen a high-level (scripting) language before. They are probably coming from using nothing but Java for years, and can't believe how much simpler the code is. The prejudice against Perl as a serious development language may have kept them away from from it, so they needed something new without Perl's reputation for unreadability to get them interested.
The tone of the articles can get pretty irritating though. For example, many of the authors are taking pot shots at Perl for having unreadable syntax, while lauding Ruby. Ruby looks like a slightly crazier syntax than Perl to me. I'm surprised more of the Java guys didn't get behind some kind of Python framework instead. Go figure.
UPDATE: Speak of the devil.