Now things are just getting weird. Sarah Palin's claiming she didn't spend $150 grand on wardrobe — evidence to the contrary be damned. And that all this fuss is just an expression of sexism! But the really strange part? Now some of the alleged retailers are claiming they never sold anything to the campaign. So...where did the money go? Who's lying? And...what the hell?In a rare interview with the Chicago Tribune yesterday, Palin asserted that she did not accept $150,000 worth of designer clothes from the Republican Party. "That is not who we are," she said. "That whole thing is just, bad! Oh, if people only knew how frugal we are. It's kind of painful to be criticized for something when all the facts are not out there and are not reported." Palin added that the clothes were bought for the Republican National Convention and that most of them haven't even left the plane. So, wait? What "facts" is she talking about? Because she certainly has some pricey duds on, whatever's in the plane. The McCain campaign has released a statement claiming all clothes will be donated to charity, which pretty much seems to confirm that they did, in fact, buy them. As Andrew Sullivan asks, "Is she saying they are not worth $150,000? Is she saying they were bought at a second-hand charity shop? Or that they were hers to begin with? Is she saying that these clothes were all bought before the convention and only worn then? Is she saying that they have actually remained on the airplane the entire time and we have been hallucinating her wearing them at every occasion? Is she saying that the RNC did not buy them, or that no campaign money was spent on them?" Sullivan concludes it's the blathering of a congenital liar who can't deal with reality, but it almost seems like it might be a case of folks not getting their stories straight. From the get-go, fashion experts (yeah, I know) have stated that they didn't really see where all the money could have gone; the clothes we've seen are expensive, sure, but not that expensive. And here's where things get really murky: several of those stores where she was supposed to have spent the $150,000 deny having sold her anything. Not only did a Minnesota children's store deny having made a sale to Team Palin (which listed it as an expense)Quoth high-end men’s store Atelier New York, where the campaign allegedly spent five grand. presumably on the store's avant-garde fashion? After going through the store's receipts twice, the owner says, “We have no recollection of that sale and no idea what they are talking about.” So, um, where did the money go then? And who's lying? Everybody? Just somebody? And why? Well, if it did go to clothes, the issue may be a bigger one than just that of losing Main Street cred: Yesterday watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Palin and the RNC, claiming that the use of campaign funds for personal use — read: clothing for Palin and her family — violates the Federal Election Campaign Act. Palin's response to all that? Apparently either a) flat-out lying, b) befuddlement c) madness. In any event, it's all because she's a woman and the sexist media's subjecting her to unfair scrutiny, just like her sister-in-arms Hillary Clinton, and she really doesn't want to talk about it so SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP!

"I think Hillary Clinton was held to a different standard in her primary race," Palin said. "Do you remember the conversations that took place about her, say superficial things that they don't talk about with men, her wardrobe and her hairstyles, all of that? That's a bit of that double standard...I'm not going to complain about it, I'm not going to whine about it, I'm going to plow through that, because we are embarking on something greater than that, than allowing that double standard to adversely affect us,"

Yeah, so says the fair-weather feminist — who, as we know, has had to deal with having thousands of dollars' worth of finery thrown upon her back by said sexist media. Had she failed to notice that her makeup artist is paid better than any of the campaign's policy advisors? That her campaign hasn't exactly shied away from promoting her attractions? Palin's not wanting to address direct questions is hardly breaking news. But large sums of campaign donations unaccounted for? Stories not adding up? Inconsistent records? Kinda is. At best for the campaign, this is something ill-judged that's been made a lot worse by double-talk, prevarications and concealment, tangled-web style. At worst? Well, we don't know about the money, but "worst" has kind of already happened so far as Sarah Palin is concerned — any vestige of credibility, dignity and gravitas has pretty much gone up in a blaze of mysteriously-funded, only okay-looking designer threads. Never underestimate the power of clothes, people. Palin Dismissed Wardrobe Extravagance Charge [Chicago Tribune] The Odd Lies Of Sarah Palin XX: The Clothes, The Clothes [Andrew Sullivan] Wardrobe Mysteries Linger [New York Times] Palin's Wardrobe Expenses Prompt Complaint To FEC [McClatchyDC] Palin Says Scrutiny Of Her $150,000 Wardrobe Is Sexist [Los Angeles Times] Palin Away [VogueUK] Palin stylist draws higher pay than policy adviser [AP]