I am not sure I was ever aware — and if I was, I have since forgotten — that the word tsar is not just a cute metaphor that I took it to be. So I was a bit taken aback when I saw different media use the word completely unironically.
Cambridge Advanced Learner's lists this meaning, which the media seems to have completely normalized by now (screenshot below). Merriam-Webster, in contrast, does not offer a specifically political definition, as Cambridge Advanced Learner's does; but does supply recent examples of usage, such as "President Biden has tapped a longtime economic adviser, Gene Sperling, as his pandemic relief czar." Is this usage of tsar a recent thing? When did it happen?