There is a huge advantage to a VTOL rocket. Obviously the goal here is reusability, but imagine being able to land your rocket back at the very same launch pad it launched from. Do a quick inspection, refuel, launch again. Won't be that simple, but that's the idea. They are actively interested in VTOL, that's the goal of Grasshopper.
The reason this is so much more attractive than a lifting body is that you're taking a lot less extra weight with you every time. The space shuttle was extremely heavy empty, a fair chunk of launch thrust was just launching the shuttle itself, not payloads or the people. So, in short, landing legs and some extra control hardware weigh a lot less than aerobodies and control surfaces. You want to be spending your fuel and thrust on the payload, not the weight of the rocket itself.