Gov. Barbour, speaking at the Republican Leadership conference in New Orleans, noted that Sarah Palin “could raise enough money to burn a wet mule.”
This caught Andrew Sullivan’s attention, and he quoted a reader (from Atlanta) had never heard this saying and claimed it was some sort of bogus pseudo-southern affectation on Gov. Barbour’s part (is Atlanta still part of the south?), and a phrase he’d invented, to boot.
I am writing here to rise to our governor’s defense. The phrase has a long history, including in relation to political money– in 1929, when the effort was on to impeach Huey Long as governor of Louisiana, he toured the state saying that Standard Oil was paying up to $25,000 to each legislator who would vote to impeach, and that they were paying “enough money to burn a wet mule.” Huey fought back with the “round robin,” a letter signed by 15 senators (enough to prevent impeachment) that they would vote not guilty regardless of the evidence. The signatories to the round robin were amply rewarded, although I’ve not seen it recorded how big a fire their reward might have made.
Update: correction noted in comments.