TOM'S TIMING: The deep sigh of relief you hear is Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Delay's decision to step down as majority leader is the right one politically, whether or not he eventually gets convicted for the campaign finance charges. His departure reduces his exposure as a Democratic target, making him thereby less of a liability for a GOP already nervous about Abramoff. As for next November: Preliminary reports indicate that Democrats comprise as many as 35 percent of members of Congress being investigated in the lobbying scandal. If that's accurate, I'm betting angry voters will focus less on the GOP than "the culture of entrenched incumbents." Then again, the political waters are way too volatile to be sure at this point — many butterflies yet to fly.