A wink and a Kyle.

Today’s Chance of a Gonzales Departure: 85 percent

(Previously: 82.5435 percent)

You want to hand it to Karl Rove. He sure is a good dancer. But can it really be a good thing for him to have—out there in the ether—e-mails from New Mexico Republican Pete Domenici’s chief of staff that thank him after he floated a list of replacements for the newly ousted New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias? Certainly it’s possible that Domenici’s people were thanking Rove for the nice bike they sent over. Or the fabulous dinner party. But it does make you wonder.

While Rove boogied, Gonzales took noogies. Gonzales met in Chicago with some of the U.S. attorneys who didn’t get canned and had what we call in Washington a “frank and open exchange.” With our children we call it “a spanking.” The attorneys complained about the way the Justice Department was run, said the firings had undermined morale, and expressed a lack of confidence in Gonzales. Today’s Gonzo-Meter is set at 85.

Meantime, up on Capitol Hill, Kyle Sampson is doing his best impression today of a guy willing to take a bullet for his former boss, as long as it nicks his leg rather than tunnels into his gut. Among Sampson’s revelations this morning, he told the senators that his former boss is basically a liar: “I don’t think the attorney general’s statement that he was not involved in any discussions of U.S. attorney removals was accurate,” he said. Gonzales is also the guy to blame: “The decision-makers in this case were the attorney general and the counsel to the president.”

Sampson’s still doing a decent job of sticking to the talking points. “Pleasure of the president … no distinction between political and performance … my fault … ” And of course, all the terrible timing (Carol Lam’s firing the day after she broadened an investigation into corruption by Republicans, Iglesias’ addition to the list at the 11th hour) looks bad to Sampson only in hindsight, and even then, not suspect.

More to come as the day progresses. But it’s hard to see how testimony from his former chief of staff—however nicely put—that calls Gonzales a liar who made the ultimate decisions can really help the guy.