The vultures are circling. I won’t be sorry to see him go, and neither will a lot of other conservatives.

In a sign of Republican despair, GOP political strategists on Capitol Hill said that it is too late for Gonzales’ departure to head off a full-scale Democratic investigation into the motives and timing behind the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

“Democrats smell blood in the water, and (Gonzales’) resignation won’t stop them,” said a well-connected Republican Senate aide. “And on our side, no one’s going to defend him. All we can do is warn Democrats against overreaching.”

A main reason Gonzales is finding few friends even among Republicans is that he has long been regarded with suspicion by conservatives who have questioned his ideological purity. In the past, these conservatives warned the White House against nominating him for the Supreme Court. Now they’re using the controversy over the firing of eight federal prosecutors to take out their pent-up frustrations with how he has handled his leadership at Justice and how the White House has treated Congress.

Complaints range from his handling of immigration cases to his alleged ceding of power in the department to career officials instead of movement conservatives.

Likely replacement: Chertoff. Possible replacement: Fred! Although if it’s Fred, that means he’s not running.

Specter’s making a halfhearted attempt to fling a little shinola back at Schumer, but I think we’re going to end up having to assume the position here and just take what comes. Rahm Emanuel is thinking big — conspiracy-theory big — but Pelosi will sedate him if he keeps up with that.

As for Bush, Bloomberg attributes his neverending political lucky streak to having “delegated to the point of detachment.” Which is a fine managerial style, provided you don’t also have crappy taste in personnel.

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Update: Looks bad:

New e-mails released this evening by the Justice Department reveal the depth of White House involvement in the discussions to fire eight U.S. attorneys last year. The thousands of pages of e-mails suggest the White House was involved in the plan from the beginning.

The e-mails detail conversations about attorneys targeted for dismissal. There are no e-mails from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who reportedly does not use e-mail, though the Justice Department says messages show some indication that Gonzales’ former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, kept the attorney general apprised.

No details whatsoever yet about just how “deep” it goes, though. Question: How’d they manage to review thousands of pages in a few hours?