No doubt you've heard it several times by now: American Idol garnered more votes than any U.S. President. Ryan Seacreast mentioned it on the show Wednesday night, and a number of articles have mentioned it since then.
It's not true.
Here are the basics. 63 million votes were cast in American Idol - total. This gets compared to the 54.5 million voters that voted for President Ronald Reagan. But Reagan won two elections so 63 million votes isn't more than Reagan has gotten. Then you have to consider that Taylor Hicks didn't get all 63 million votes - that was the total for all contestants. If you compare the total number of people that voted in a given Presidential election compared to the total number of votes in American Idol, the Presidents wins again. And then you have to consider the hundreds of votes cast by a single person, be that a teenaged girl or a script-kiddie with a modem setup to redial the numbers repeatedly.
Finally, if the American public could vote for President without moving their fat cells from the couch, and no doubt Democrats would love that, there would be more votes, but it's probably best that we don't do it that way. It is also worth noting that there is no way to tell just how many calls/votes came from outside America.