/etc/hosts can change what the local resolver returns. The local resolver does caching too.
/etc/nsswitch.conf can completely remove DNS from the resolution path...
So it seems wierd that there is no command for checking what the local resolver library has.
I normally do something like this:
export VAR='"nics-acer"'; python -c "import socket; print(socket.gethostbyname($VAR));"
and when I wrote my Python version of resolvconf, I added a switch to test the resolver, but shouldn't there be a reason for there not being a standard tool?