Best of all, he has a long record of sermonizing against America's corrupt entertainment industry and cultural vices in general; his Senate floor denunciation of President Clinton over the Lewinsky affair may well be the act that made him the vice-presidential candidate--enough fire and brimstone to soothe the soul of an evangelical Christian (the group most convinced of its own persecution these days) while also making most lapsed religionists squirm over their own lax standards.

Certainly, there's no gainsaying that we should be proud of ourselves for transcending our unease with Lieberman's non-Christian-ness. It probably helped to have a constitutional crisis and a rancorous five-week presidential ballot-counting period to distract us from any argument that Gore lost votes over his Jewish running mate. No doubt about it, though, we've made progress.

But Lieberman is the easy case. So are General Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, top Cabinet members in the nascent Bush administration who have "transcended" their race and gender. America is still a long way, though, from the day when an openly gay, Nation of Islam member, or God forbid, an atheist, has a realistic chance of occupying the Oval Office.