The pulse of our nation can be found in the search terms we use on Google.
Take our infatuation with Paul Ryan, for example, that dapper and daring senator from Wisconsin who's running to be Mitt Romney's vice president. He's got broad shoulders and a nice head of hair, controversial policies, and a much-maligned selection of songs on his iPod.
He's the most tabloid-friendly candidate running on a nationwide November ticket—Star would have paid millions for shirtless photos!—and he should be looked up on the Internet as such.
So it should come as no surprise that the New York Times reported Sunday that Google searches for "Paul Ryan shirtless" outnumbers Google searches for "Paul Ryan budget" by nearly 10 times.
It should come as no surprise because the Internet is more or less the digital transposition of the magazine rack at the grocery store checkout counter. Kardashians, Britney Spears' upskirt photos, Lindsay Lohan mug shots… What's the difference?
So it's not the fact that "shirtless" trumps "budget" that should have the people talking. It's what they'll find inside.
Googling "Paul Ryan shirtless" yields a hodgepodge amalgamation of scandal and source.
There's the ABC News report that TMZ found Ryan’s P90X workout photos in August, and the Washington Post's analysis of the incident, as well. (That report noted that "Paul Ryan Vice President" was still more popular than "Paul Ryan shirtless" as recently as August.)
There's also the blockbuster TMZ story—the one simply titled "THE SHIRTLESS PHOTO"—and a thorough analysis of said photo from popular YouTuber and all-around shiller-of-SFW-smut Philip DeFranco.
What is surprising is that a search for "Paul Ryan shirtless" initially yields zero actual photos of the Wisconsin warrior wearing no shirt.
For that, indulgent Americans will need to click on the little "Images" tab at the top of their screens.
There, they'll find more than 2.6 million photos waiting at the ready, including this one, which gets us every time.
Photo via @hazzakiss/Twitter