Why? I could only hazard a guess - which would be that they're trying to entice more amateurs at the low end of video, on a couple of fronts. Adding continuous autofocus to the new Rebel is a brilliant move because for Uncle Bob's, that's one of the primary reasons they don't see DSLR's as a viable camcorder. Pro shooters, for the most part, couldn't care less about continuous AF because it's usually herky-jerky and you lose control over what you're focusing on. Someone walks across frame in front of your subject, and everything goes to hell.
Similarly, while most pros and semi-pros have already invested in good stabilization gear, the low-end crowd usually shoots exclusively handheld, and camera shake is another frequent gripe. Any added IS can only help. Most newbies don't realize that IS really won't help that much when you're shooting that wide, but the fact that it has it can only help sell more lenses.
As far as recommendations go, you mentioned perhaps using a monopod. I can't think of anything that would be a better bang-for-your-buck purchase than the Manfrotto 561bhdv-1 fluid head monopod. Fantastic for adding some serious stabilization while staying mobile and without adding too much bulk. Its real strength is the tiny feet and rotation drag at the bottom. You'll find that a standard photo monopod won't really help all that much, but the 561 is amazing.