i actually agree with you on this, but have been at tables where the gm ruled otherwise. can we at least agree that there isn't a class with as much table variance for whether they actually get to use their class abilities as paladins?
I'll disagree. Play a caster built around charms and compulsions.
I have a 9th level witch whose preferred strategies include Charm Person, Charm Monster, Suggestion, and Dominate Person. Some GMs empower the whole list and make them better than they should be (although they are a very small minority). A few run it fair or can be argued into running them fairly. The majority though think being disguised as an ally to the NPC/monster doesn't help you, that acting on a Suggestion can wait until the NPC/monster finishes trying to kill you, or that a pretty mundane act is "against the target's nature" causing the spell to fail or giving a big save bonus.
My 8th level paladin has had waaaay less table variation, I'd even go so far as to say I've had none, not even a warning.