LIBBY LOSES ANOTHER APPEAL….If Scooter Libby is counting on a pardon to keep him out of jail, he’ll need Bush to act very quickly.

Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, must go to prison while appealing his conviction for obstructing a CIA leak probe, a U.S. appeals court said.

Libby may be behind bars within weeks after a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today denied his request for release. The decision will increase pressure on President George W. Bush to decide soon whether to pardon Libby, 56, as the former White House official’s supporters have urged.

Libby “has not shown that the appeal raises a substantial question” under federal law that would merit letting him remain free, the court said.

It apparently wasn’t too close a question for the appeals court panel — it was a unanimous decision dismissing the appeal with a one-paragraph order.

For those who keep track of such things, Bloomberg reported, “The three-judge appeals panel that issued today’s order included Judges David Sentelle, nominated by President Ronald Reagan; Karen LeCraft Henderson, nominated by President George H.W. Bush, and David Tatel, nominated by President Bill Clinton.”

In other words, for those keeping score, Libby was charged by a prosecutor appointed by a Republican administration, he was sentenced by a judge appointed by a Republican president, and his appeal was heard by two more judges appointed by Republican presidents. Naturally, this will lead Fox News and the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page to decry the “partisan” prosecution.

As for the inevitable questions about a presidential pardon, a former senior Bush administration official recently said, “It would show a deep disregard for the rule of law if [the president] was to do it right now, when there has been no remorse shown by a convicted felon and no time has been served.”

In other words, it would be entirely consistent with the White House’s m.o.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.