Those who hope to join President–elect Obama as he begins “changing” America learn, even as they apply to serve, that things have changed in Washington.

In recent years, presidents have been embarrassed by appointees who haven’t been thoroughly vetted before being named and have had to subsequently withdraw from consideration. As a result, the vetting process has gotten ever more thorough, leading many familiar with the way it’s developed to wonder why any sane person would put themselves through it.

We’re not talking here about the backgrounder an appointee or more lowly federal employee gets before being granted a security clearance or White House pass, but questions that might simply pique the interest of a reporter or congressional aide preparing his or her boss for a confirmation hearing or provide a clue to the potential employer that the applicant may not share each and every one of the new administration’s beliefs and/or prejudices.

In this regard, the preliminary data those seeking to enter Obama World must provide is very interesting.

One thing the Obama folks aren’t interested in is whether an applicant is a drug user, though if he or she has ever been arrested, that information would have to be included … though it might later be ignored, according to Obama’s people, who just want to know what problems might exist and might have to be dealt with should the applicant be appointed to anything.

They are interested in a bunch of other things, such as whether the applicant ever lobbied for anything, received a gift from anyone other than a family member or very close friend that turned out to have been worth more than 50 bucks or has ever done or been associated with anyone who has done one of a hundred or so things.

Question No. 59 should be of interest to anyone who has ever owned a firearm, because it raises questions about why Obama’s guys want the information:

If you were to apply for a job and it was later discovered that your brother in Idaho or Texas who you see rarely has taken up hunting without telling you and therefore bought himself a shotgun, would you be disqualified for answering the question untruthfully because you didn’t know? And what business is it of Obama’s anyway?

Or for that matter, what business is it of his if you own a gun? One has a right to that, and it’s supposedly a right he supports — or at least that’s what he said during the campaign. Maybe on reflection, he’s decided to screen for anyone who not only owns a gun, but clings to it in church.

It will be difficult for many to answer this question if they own a gun in a state that doesn’t require registration. In addition, a gun has many legitimate uses, and what happens if, after filling out the application, the job seeker is invited to take his shotgun, which he told his prospective employer he used, to hunt ducks or shoot skeet? Will he have to amend the application?

Or what if the person reading the application is a member of PETA and believes that there isn’t all that much difference between a man, a woman and a duck? Should the applicant have reported that, in shooting the duck, the gun had been used to inflict personal injury on another being?

Only time will tell.

Keene is chairman of The American Conservative Union, whose website can be accessed here.