As everyone in Washington continues to watch the clock on the tenure of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, today’s Washington Post story on Bush appointees interfering with the government’s case against tobacco said so much more than the damning words of a former Justice Department prosecutor could tell. Even more damaging than her accusation that the Bush loyalists in the AG’s office micromanaged the strategy to the detriment of the government’s case against tobacco companies was its timing. The first Republican I saw at the Capitol this morning said, shaking his head, that the tipping point on Gonzales had already been reached. “He has no room left for this,” he said.

For its own political stability the Bush administration needs the distraction of a Gonzales resignation. Amidst the brewing constitutional showdown over subpoenas for Karl Rove & Co., some dramatic and lengthy hearings for a different, viable and strong candidate for AG is just what the doctor is ordering. Gonzalez must know this. The fact that he is still standing means he has quite a stomach. I can’t imagine the stomachs in the West Wing being that strong.