WASHINGTONIn what government officials are calling a stirring testament to the leadership and foresight of late U.S. president Ronald Reagan, nearly $20 trillion in low denomination bills were discovered this week buried in the White House Rose Garden.
Sealed in hundreds of old mason jars, crumpled shoe boxes, socks, metal tins, and oven mitts, the financial windfall is believed to have been stashed away by Regan, then 76, during his second term.
"Our economic worries are no more," announced a jubilant Barack Obama, who claimed that the remarkable find would sustain the struggling nation for the next two decades. "Not only did President Reagan manage to anticipate a crippling recession 20 years ahead of time, but it appears he left behind all of the resources we would need to overcome it."
"Everything is here," added Obama, standing among the towering stacks of money, as well as several other items that were uncovered, including three dozen toothbrushes, multiple tire hubcaps, two teddy bears, and a broken desk lamp. "This truly is a tribute to Mr. Reagan's incredible presence of mind."
According to the White House, the surprising discovery was made early Tuesday morning by members of the gardening staff. Less than an hour later, an estimated $19 billion had been dug up from the yard.
While senior officials were initially unsure of where the hoard of valuables had come from, a number of cluesmost notably a framed photo of former first lady Nancy Reagan accompanied by a note which read "Don't be angry with me, Mommy"seemed to point to the 40th president.
Reports from retired Secret Service agents who routinely witnessed a disoriented Reagan sneaking out of the White House late at night, only to return in the early morning hours covered in grass and dirt, also corroborated Tuesday's find.