Barbour, then a successful Washington, D.C., lobbyist who spent as much or more time in the nation's capital as in his hometown of Yazoo City, was taking pages of notes while querying Wiseman on various aspects of state politics.
"He sincerely craves information," said Wiseman, director of MSU's Stennis Institute of Government.
People might not agree with the Republican governor, but no one has accused him of speaking from ignorance, whether it is dealing with the state budget, the site selection of the Toyota plant or Mississippi's wide-ranging transportation needs.
He studies in great detail the issues that he confronts or that confront him.
He has followed the same pattern in dealing with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf Coast and the ensuing massive oil leak that threatens the ecology of the Gulf Coast and the economy of Mississippi - along with much of the southeastern United States.
The governor can talk in great specificity about the different forms the leaking oil can take as it floats in the Gulf of Mexico and threatens beaches.
He knows the number of vessels patrolling waters south of Mississippi, looking to intercept and scoop up the oil before it hits land and how the currents and tide affect the oil's direction.
Barbour, now with just 11/2 years left in his second and final term as governor and often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2012, followed the same pattern after Hurricane Katrina devastated much of south Mississippi in 2005.
His grasp of the details of the recovery effort were on display every day during news briefings. He answered all questions. If he did not know an answer, he said he would find out, and true to his word, he did.
"The governor has been as engaged in this (oil spill) as I imagine him being after Katrina," said spokesman Dan Turner, who joined Barbour's staff after the storm.
The only difference is that after Katrina, Barbour received generally high marks for his remarks, higher than any other politician in the affected area. But with the Deepwater Horizon oil leak, the governor has come under some criticism.
During a recent state House committee hearing, many Gulf Coast legislators and other leaders from the affected area bemoaned the fact the Barbour administration was waging an ineffective campaign with funds provided by BP to get tourists back to the Coast.
They argued they could do a better job with the money.
"We don't understand why politics and not common sense is controlling these funds," said Ken Montana, president of the Harrison County Tourism Commission.
Some Gulf Coast officials also were critical of the communication between the state and local governments on the response to the manmade disaster.
And on another front, some don't think Barbour has taken the massive leak seriously because of his constant harping that the Mississippi Coast beaches and waters have not been substantially affected and that tourists should visit.
He also has been viewed by some as being too lenient on BP, the company responsible for the leak. It has been pointed out that Barbour and Republican governors, in general, have been major benefactors of campaign contributions from big oil, including from BP.
"He is trying to do what he can for the tourism industry, but at the same time the perception is to many that he seems to be protecting big oil," Wiseman said, adding the governor has a difficult tightrope to walk.
Unlike other politicians, Barbour never criticized the federal response to Katrina. Some say it was because party ally and good friend George Bush was president at the time.
But Barbour also has been reluctant to criticize the response of BP or the Democratic Barack Obama administration to the oil leak.
Earlier, Barbour praised Obama for pointing out during a visit to hard-hit Louisiana that the beaches were still open in Mississippi, Florida and Alabama and not yet affected. Barbour criticized the news media for not reporting the president's comments more thoroughly.
It appeared Barbour heaved criticism the president's way, though, on a Fox News appearance last week when he was asked to evaluate the administration's response.
He replied, "Napoleon said never interfere with the enemy while he's in the process of destroying himself. So people don't need me to pile on or to talk about what the administration is doing or ought not to do."
But then he added, "When we asked them to do something, they try to do it. When we ask BP for something, they try to do it. There's no satisfactory response until they get that well shut in and no more oil coming out."
In general, despite the Napoleonic reference, Barbour has been restrained in his criticism of Obama's response.
While Barbour did not attend the president's earlier visits to Louisiana in response to the oil spill, Turner said the governor will meet the president when he visits the Mississippi Coast on Monday. Turner pointed out Barbour did not meet with Bush when he visited Louisiana in response to Katrina.
Turner said the governor understands the anger concerning the BP spill.
The spill, Turner said, is a different type of disaster from Katrina. As bad as the hurricane was, there was the storm and then the massive damage and cleanup.
With the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the oil continues to leak and spread in the Gulf, leaving the state beaches in constant but uncertain danger.
"There is probably not an hour goes by where the governor does not deal with some aspect of this," Turner said. "He is working on it early in the morning and late at night.
"I can't tell you whether he dreams about it at night, but it would not surprise me."