TRex and I were talking this morning about Rove's little shop of political horrors.  And we both had this flashback to the brilliant Steve Martin dentist bit from the movie, Little Shop Of Horrors.  Let us all pause for a moment and contemplate the genius that is Steve Martin.

Why is it, exactly, that Rove gets to have nine political lives, while every available fall guy around him takes the blame for any and all scandals that arise.  To wit:

Some questions for this morning. Is this the point where Senators push themselves forward to fill the perceived void that Rove may be leaving in his legal distractions? Senators are not used to being told what to do, by the WH or anyone else, and the behind the scenes and public chafing at being given marching orders by Rove has been interesting to watch. Once that bit has been removed from their mouths — as it seemed to be in all of the Republican opposition to Miers — it is awfully hard to get them back in the bridle.

But which faction of Senators will win the wrestling match? The more moderate Specter judicial wing, the Christian Conservative Brownback group, or the maverick competence-touting McCain and Hegel crew? It's going to be an interesting tea-leaf reading experience over the next few weeks as the next phase of judicial nominee contemplation occurs.

And does this mean that Rove re-asserts himself as indespensable, using the problems with this nomination to wedge himself back through the crack in the door that had widened through all the Traitorgate mess? Does he stay in place, whether or not he gets indicted, because Bush is now too afraid to make decisions without him again? Or has Rove already overplayed his hand by putting himself out in the press as the "Bush's brain" kind of guy and the Preznit has had enough? This dynamic will be interesting to watch as well.

Finally, Ed Gillespie and a lot of other GOP operatives have been much more visible over the last few days. Has the beauty pageant started already to select the Rove replacement, regardless of what happens with the legal case, because Rove has become so radioactive? Or does this mean that Andy Card should be watching his back?

Well, what it meant was that Andy Card needed to watch his back.  Take that to heart, Mr. Gonzales:  Andy Card had been a lifelong buddy of President Bush, and yet that did not matter in this context — saving Rove's bacon was the key concern.  Josh Bolten was brought in to provide new blood cover, after Card was bumped out, so that Rove could continue to operate his "shop" in peace with Bolten taking the heat for bad results.  Ditto for Scooter Libby, who was clearly stupid enough to believe that Rove wouldn't rat him out to save his own sorry hide.  (Ha!)  And on and on.

Honestly, at what point does the Republican establishment decide that the Rule of Karl is all about protecting Karl's interests, no matter how the party's interests in the long term may be run into the ground?

The folks at The Muck have grabbed the report this morning from MSNBC on the President's call to Gonzales reaffirming his personal support.  And the NYTimes and the WaPo have much more on the Presidential support phone call.   In case you've been asking yourself whether laws may have been broken, this op-ed says, "Yes."

I was watching MSNBC later in the morning, and they had Mike Allen discussing the fact that his highly placed sources within the White House were still telling him that a short list was being developed for Gonzales replacement.  As emptywheel said in the comments earlier, Allen's sources have tended to be in the Dan Bartlett (read:  Rove minion) camp, and you have to wonder whether "Rove's shop" is pushing a wee bit too hard on the CYA angle this morning, don't you? 

Could it be because the Senate and house Judiciary committees are deciding within the next day or so whether subpoenas for Rove, Miers and a number of others whose names are sprinkled throughout the DoJ docudump will be issued?  I don't know about you guys, but I see a bright, shiny object being dangled in front of the press — and Mike Allen, like the good little Rover message delivery service that he is, running around with the bait trying to distribute it far and wide.  How about you?

And, just for amusement's sake, as cbl reminds us, the bulk of the recent precedent for WH staffers being subpoenaed to testify before Congress comes from the Whitewater hearings.  Hello, Dan Burton…how's your day? 

Just take a peek at this LATimes story from today regarding some of the information contained in the e-mails released last night — the level of concern for political CYA — and then add "Rove's shop" into the mix in terms of willingness to do whatever oppo is necessary.  And think about the internal machinations that are going on right now between the Gonzales' loyalists, the long time Bushies, and the Rove loyalists.  And go back to this, from one of the many e-mails, and a question that Mary4 raised this morning:

Who will determine whether whether this requires the President’s attention?

Was the President really never told and did everything actually proceed without anyone knowing the answer to this question?

This comes back to that same question that I ask myself time and time again about George Bush: was he completely in the loop on all of this, or was he out of the loop and disengaged entirely from high level decision-making in his own Administration? Who wants to go first with an answer?

Meanwhile, folks are still combing through the DoJ e-mails.  TRex is right — it truly is a treasure trove.