Michele Bachmann is the top-ranking lawmaker on The Hill's “ 50 Most Beautiful People’ list. (Benjamin J. Myers)

And guess who’s ranked #10? Rep. Michele Bachmann — congresswoman, tea party darling and former presidential candidate. How come she hasn’t made the list before this year?

“She is a pretty woman,” the Hill’s editor-in-chief Hugo Gurdon told us. But “having been in the presidential race, she turned to stylists and and enhanced the way she looked. She looked great on the trail.”

Yeah, they went there. (And so did we.) Of course, female politicians rarely talk about their looks, so Bachmann and Sen. Kelly Ayotte declined to be interviewed by the Hill. (Other members on the list: Reps. Nan Hayworth, Jim Himes and Bobby Scott.)

The annual feature is Washington’s guilty-pleasure equivalent of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. By now, you know the drill: A photo gallery of cute young staffers with a sprinkling of elected officials. Like Miss America, you can only appear on the list once, so every year has a new batch of Capitol assets.

This year’s highlights:

He’s #1: Max Engling topped the list of The Hill's “50 Most Beautiful People.” (Benjamin J. Myers)

• More than 400 staffers, lobbyists and politicians were nominated for 2012: Between 80 and 100 were selected for a photo shoot before the Hill staff winnowed the list.

• There are 30 women and 20 men: 22 Democrats, 21 Republicans, and seven who identified themselves as Independents, Libertarian or non-partisan.

• Of the 25 states represented, California leads the pack with nine sun-kissed entries.

Carolyn Amirpashaie is #2 on the list — but sorry guys, she’s engaged. (Benjamin J. Myers)

Not surprisingly: “You do realize people date off this list, right?” a finalist told Hill staff at one of the photo shoots. In fact, there are at least three known couples from "Most Beautiful" lists over the years. Hanz Heinrichs (2005) wed Rebeccah Ramey (2007), Carling Dinkler (2004) and Ayame Nagatani (2005), and this year’s Erik Olson is engaged to Jess Smith (2007). The pair will tie the knot in November.

But the courtship styles of Capitol Hill still leave something to be desired, according to the list’s Brynn Rovito, a lawyer for the Senate sergeant-at-arms who worked part-time as a bartender. “A lot of guys would leave numbers on credit card slips and say, ‘Call me.’ Come on — grow a pair!”

See The Hill’s full list: The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People, 7/25/12

Read earlier from The Reliable Source: Michele Bachmann raises the fashion bar for female politicians, 1/5/12

Last year: Three bachelor congressman score high on The Hill’s “50 Most Beautiful” list, 7/27/11

From 2010: Senator Scott Brown shies from posing for The Hill’s “50 Most Beautiful”, 7/28/10

The Hill elects to widen the scope of its pretty-people list, 7/31/08

Also in The Reliable Source:

Love, etc.: Kristen Stewart love triangle and subsequent apologies enliven the day

Surreal estate: Gilbert Arenas puts Great Falls mansion up for sale

Hey, isn’t that . . . ?: Sharon Stone, Janet Napolitano, Martin O’Malley

Mork as Ike? Robin Williams to play Eisenhower in star-studded White House epic, ‘The Butler’

James Windle runs uphill race for Congress — with a giant log on his shoulder

A secret bipartisan love affair amid the stimulus battle — but who was the couple?