John Farrell, writing for the Denver Post, says if Republicans would join Joel Hefley in repealing the new ethics rules and restoring the Ethics Committee to a functioning unit, DeLay might save his hide.

The most important of the new rules changed the number of votes required to trigger an ethics inquiry. The ethics panel is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. Under the old rules, to prevent either party from stonewalling, the committee would be required to launch an investigation on a tie vote.

By the new rules, a tie vote is not enough; a majority is needed to initiate an inquiry. As long as they stick together, the Republicans can block any probe of DeLay…..Emboldened by DeLay’s troubles, House Democrats have refused to participate in the work of the neutered ethics committee. For now, the House has no functioning ethics procedure to clear him.

To break the logjam, Hefley and Rep. Alan Mollohan, a Democrat from West Virginia, have co-sponsored a resolution to repeal the three new ethics rules.

So far, Republicans have blocked Hefley’s proposed resolution from coming to a vote. Farrell says Republicans should rethink this strategy:

Even if DeLay lost a showdown on the floor, a functioning ethics committee could still represent his best way out. Any probe would be conducted in secret. The Republican members of the purged committee are now DeLay loyalists.

And Republicans in Congress would finally be able to tell their constituents that their House was cleaning house.

It may be too late for DeLay. His appearance last night as keynote speaker for the NRA, waving a rifle and boldly proclaiming,

“When a man is in trouble or in a good fight, you want to have your friends around, preferably armed. So I feel really good.”

may be more than enough evidence that the embattled House Leader has stepped too far over the line.