I wanted to post this as it seems like a germain item to look at after nearly 80 people viewed this thread and there were NO responses.
I spent two days hacking away at this (with no resolve and all avenues of exploration seemingly exhausted), BIOS, SYS, and even looked at some chipset files to see if something had an error. I even went over to see Geek Squad (no I did not need them, but for resource) and had 3 gentleman standing around it saying "it makes no sense" ....it seemed as if it were 'No dice.'
As I was going through the computer...I was noticing that the built in SD drive light stayed illuminated seconds after startup. ...but how can this be BEFORE BIOS...the only thing that travels faster than that Data is...........ELECTRICITY. So in my exploration, I found that two contacts on the CF drive bay had become bent...creating a closed/short circuit. EUREKA! If this was the case it would also explain why when the card was plugged IN the circuit worked causing no error and the machine would start fine.
Using a jewelers screwdriver (and sipping on a screwdriver with SKYY) I straightened the contact in the bay....
Please share this info with ANYONE using a Gateway DX4300 series or like where the SD readers are built in...
Although I solved my own issue, I feel it is important to share this info for others who may be googling or swinging in. MAKE SURE YOUR CONTACTS IN ALL YOUR CARD READERS ARE STRAIGHT....
That is all...now back to that screwdriver.