I did not know until today that “bunk,” “bunkum,” and “debunk” were among North Carolina's many contributions to Western Civilization. Imagine Brave New World without Ford's “History is bunk”—it wouldn't work. And where would anti-spiritualist literature be without “debunk”?
It turns out that “bunkum” actually comes from Buncombe County, location of Asheville and birthplace of Thomas Wolfe. You may have known this already. But I learned it today.
“[The Jeffersonian Republicans] were determined to get Missouri admitted without restrictions on slavery. After the Sixteenth Congress convened in December 1819, the debate over Missouri resumed. The speeches seemed interminable as well as intemperate. When Felix Walker of North Carolina was urged to sit down, he replied that he had to give his speech for the folks back home, ‘for Buncombe County.’ Ever since, Americans have called a certain kind of inflated political oratory ‘buncombe’ — or ‘bunk’ for short.”
-Daniel Walker Howe. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. New York: Oxford UP, 2007. (151)
I've spent non-negligible amounts of time in Buncombe County on many occasions… but I never knew.