He’s not saying this critically, mind you. He’s a member of the Gang of Eight. When Chuck Schumer refers to “our Republicans,” Flake’s one of the guys he means. He wants the bill to pass.

Second look at letting O off the hook for IRS-gate before these tools drop an amnesty bomb on us while we’re not looking?

“It’s like magic — you distract the audience while the real trick is being done — and I think right now, while Americans focus on President Obama’s unending difficulties, it’s good news for the Gang of Eight working on immigration,” said Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, referring to the four Republicans and four Democrats who crafted the bill…

“To be able to go through this markup where nobody can claim that we’ve short-circuited the process — it’s been an open process, we’ve adopted some substantive amendments — to be able to do that without people calling press conferences outside and without groups calling members, it’s been a good process,” [Jeff] Flake said in an interview, referring to the Judiciary panel’s actions. “I’d have to say it probably helped.”…

“While the discussion on TV continues, the immigration bill marches on, and that’s because of that independent, strong support for the bill — labor, business, farm groups, it’s incredible,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a Democratic member of the committee. “It’s been actually a nice oasis to actually do some legislating during all of the somewhat radioactive news.”

The hope/expectation among border hawks is that the free lunch is about to end now that the bill’s headed for the spotlight of a Senate floor debate, but I don’t know. That depends on what’s happening in Scandalmania, doesn’t it? If a bombshell bursts next month about IRS malfeasance going further up the chain than thought, that’ll suck the media air out of the room again. Wouldn’t surprise me, in fact, if Harry Reid’s keeping an eye on Darrell Issa’s committee schedule to make debate on the bill coincide as much as possible with what’s going on in House Oversight. There are still hurdles to final passage even if the Senate rubber-stamps it — Bob Goodlatte sounds as sour on the Gang of Eight bill as ever, at least for now — but if they get a big showing of Republican support in the upper chamber, that’ll put extra pressure on House Republicans to sign off. And the more distracted conservatives are by scandal, the more likely it is that fencesitters in the Senate GOP will feel safe to sign on.

Here’s what I’m wondering: Even if something passes while grassroots righties are focused elsewhere, could there be a “delayed” backlash of sorts before the midterms? I.e. could conservatives wake up six months after now, after Obama’s signed the bill and the various scandals have finally died down, and decide that the GOP sellout warrants a little boycott at the polls next November? I’m guessing no, partly because Scandalmania will goose turnout regardless of what happens with immigration and partly because a delayed backlash would require some sort of spark or rallying point and I’m not sure what that would be. But I don’t know. This is why I’m asking.

By the way, Marco Rubio would like you to know that he doesn’t trust Washington D.C. — on budget matters. On immigration reform, which has been conducted via closed-door negotiations and which will hand Obama’s administration all sorts of new discretionary powers, he trusts D.C. just fine.