Out: Vetting cabinet appointees for tax problems. In: Vetting preachers for Jesus problems! No wonder Daschle slipped through the cracks.

Sue, atheists. Sue like the wind.

Though invocations have long been commonplace at presidential inaugurations and certain events like graduations or religious services at which presidents are guests, the practice of commissioning and vetting prayers for presidential rallies is unprecedented in modern history, according to religion and politics experts…

“If a similar thing had been done by President Bush’s White House, I guarantee you there would have been a lot of people crying foul,” says Bill Wichterman, deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison under President George W. Bush. “Democrats can do this with immunity, but when Republicans do it, it becomes controversial.”…

[M]any church/state experts are unfamiliar with the program. “The only thing worse than having these prayers in the first place is to have them vetted, because it entangles the White House in core theological matters,” Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said upon learning of the Obama invocations…

James Bing, the pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church in Fort Myers, Fla., said he chose to self-censor his prayer. “For some strange reason, the word Jesus is like pouring gasoline on fire for some people in this country,” he said. “You learn how to work around that.”

Do you have to learn how to work around it? Rick Warren invoked Jesus at the inauguration — albeit after sprinkling in prayers from Judaism and Islam to make the affair safely ecumenical. I wonder now if that was at The One’s insistence. It’s probably safe to say, at least, that the gay Episcopal bishop didn’t need to be cajoled to reduce his rhetoric to the warm mush of “the God of our many understandings.” Exit question: Who’s up for seeing Hitchens and his lawyer roll into court with a complaint to knock this one out of the park, huh? Come on. Common ground at last!