Naturalization (ie making permanent residents citizens, and thereby voters) is always a big issue with politicians in an election year. Last July USCIS received about 1.4 million applications for naturalization, because starting August 01, 2007 the fee went up from about $400/- to $695/- Obviously the processing of all these applications would take time, and Mr. Gonzales had to answer to the Congress (particularly the democrats, who somehow think that most naturalized citizens will vote for them) explaining the delay.
The CIS has provided an estimate of the time it takes for their district office to complete the process. For instance, it will take 7.2 months in Albany, NY, and 10.1 month in New York, NY. It takes anywhere between 14.5 months to 5 months. However the time listed for Houston is 14 months, but we are getting all ours (ones with no problems) in 8 months . In any case, it is well before the November general election deadline, which should make our politicians happy. If only they could use the same resources for other cases as well.