By Jessica Shambora
December 10, 2008

“We have a chance of being hung with a softer rope.”

— Denny Fitzpatrick, chairman of the California New Car Dealers Association, in the New York Times today.  A government bailout of the Detroit automakers looks increasingly likely, but that’s not necessarily good news for Fitzpatrick, a Chevrolet-Hummer dealer, and his brethren. The big three — General Motors

, Ford

, and Chrysler — have told Congress that they need to cut their dealer networks to survive. The dealers have no choice but to root for the bailout. And although they will have the law on their side when it comes to the car manufacturers breaking their contracts, many may be under too much financial stress to put up a fight. The end may come later, but it’s still coming, for many dealers — and possibly for the automakers, bailout or not.

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