[[P O L I T I C S]] * When even the ethically challenged Newt Gingrich thinks you’re too soiled with corruption to return to your position as majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, you know you’re cooked. So it would seem that the days of Tom DeLay (R-Texas) as the effective head of Congress’ lower chamber are over. Although his Republican cohorts had contrived to postpone the House’s reopening until late January, in order to give the indicted DeLay extra time to settle conspiracy and money-laundering charges brought against him in the Lone Star State, Republicans seem finally ready to concede that there’s no way for DeLay--who’s also been implicated in the Jack Abramoff bribery scandal--to return to his previous job without raising a ruckus both inside and outside of Washington, D.C., that might improve greatly chances of a Democratic takeover of the House next November. Earlier today, a petition began circulating in the House chamber to replace DeLay permanently as majority leader--even though the congressman himself hasn’t said he’ll relinquish his claim on the office. A minimum of 50 signatures is required to force an election, and the Capitol Hill paper Roll Call reports that more than a dozen House Republicans have already inked their monikers on the document. Expected to be in the running for DeLay’s old job are GOP Representatives Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Boehner of Ohio, and Eric Cantor of Virginia.
READ MORE: “Lobbyist’s Guilty Plea Seen as Threat to DeLay Return,” by Carl Hulse and Adam Nagourney (The New York Times); “In Reporting on House GOP Leadership Contest, AP Ignored Ethics Questions Facing Blunt, Boehner” (Media Matters).