By Michael Slezak
Updated June 15, 2006 at 06:55 PM EDT

The great scholar Haddaway once posed the all-consuming question: ”What is love?” And today, our corporate sisters at People have the answer: Love, my friends, is American Idol.

Yes, Paula Abdul‘s been trying to tell us that for years now, but People has actual ”scientific” proof: A whopping 23 percent of the magazine’s just-released countdown of the Hottest Bachelors of 2006 is comprised of men who graced the Idol stage this year. The show’s reigning champ Taylor Hicks ranks as the mag’s Bachelor No. 1, and having seen him in the flesh here at PopWatch HQ last month, I’m not about to dispute the dude’s silver foxiness. That said, Taylor might not be single for long — not if he’s able to learn the identity of a certain Cinderella who caught his eye on a recent flight. (How very On the Line of him; let’s hope the folks at 19 Entertainment don’t turn it into a movie.)

My only objection to People’s rankings — which plumb the general hottitude of Jake Gyllenhaal, Donald Faison, Matthew McConaughey, and others — is the fact that Idol also-ran Ace Young wasn’t disqualified for an interview that borders on self-parody. Asked what his fans go crazy for, the off-key crooner notes, “my butt, my hair and my face. A lot of fans call me Ace the Face. I think it’s the cheekbones.” Oh, Ace, how you make us blush — for all the wrong reasons.

addCredit(“Taylor Hicks: Mark Sullivan/”)