WASHINGTON—In 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 clues—most 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.
"The prescience on display here is just astounding," said former secretary of state George Shultz. "Predicting the financial fallout of our country is one thing. But burying all those jars of peanut butter, cans of Chef Boyardee, half-eaten turkey sandwiches, and dozens upon dozens of toasters—it takes a man of unparalleled insight to be able to prepare for a potential future famine like that."
Added Shultz, "Anyone who has ever questioned Ronald Reagan's sanity need only look at the 80 barrels of oil we found beneath those lilac bushes."
Republicans, who have long held up Reagan as a conservative icon, claimed that Tuesday's discovery of $20 trillion more than makes up for the former president's tripling of the national debt, and invalidates frequent allegations of his irresponsible overspending.
In addition, recovered items such as a steamer trunk brimming with children's books and 10 suitcases filled with nothing but birdseed indicate that Reagan was just as concerned about literacy rates and the environment as he was about the military.
"At the time, his decisions seemed troubling, to say the least," former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale said. "His talk about a fiscally responsible government was completely undercut by the unprecedented deficits he ran up, and he seemed more concerned with experimental defense projects than worthy social welfare causes. After all these years, though, it appears that Ronald Reagan knew exactly what he was doing. The man has saved America!"
While the White House has indicated that it has the right to spend the recovered money and instantly bring the country out of its prolonged recession, others believe that such an act would defy Reagan's wishes.
"If President Reagan hid the money there, it was for a good reason," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said. "Perhaps he was creating an anticommunist slush fund. Or perhaps, as one of his notebooks stated, he was hiding it from invisble pirates. Either way, we must not taint this great man's legacy by spending these precious funds on trifling social programs. If anything, we need to preserve Reagan's memory by sinking the entire payload into an unviable space-based antimissile system."
"Either that, or buy a glorious mountain of delicious jelly beans, like in those instructions we found," he added.
Regardless of the final allocation of the uncovered trillions, most Americans are simply marveling at the late president's astounding feat.
"When he said he wanted to put money back into America, I didn't think he meant it literally," Maine resident Michael Stargeon said. "I guess the poor man wasn't as crazy as everyone thought. Turns out he was a complete fucking lunatic."