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Heard on the Hill: Fort Knox Field Trip?

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology, held a hearing Thursday on the Gold Reserve Transparency Act.

The bill, which the Texas lawmaker introduced, would require an audit of the federal gold reserves.

“For far too long, the United States government has been less than transparent in releasing information related to its gold holdings,” Paul said. “Not surprisingly, this secretive behavior has given rise to a number of theories about the gold at Fort Knox and other depositories.”

According to the chairman, the top three possible theories about Fort Knox’s gold include: The gold has been involved in gold swaps with foreign governments, the gold has secretly been shipped out of Fort Knox and sold (wasn’t this the “Goldfinger” plot?), and — our favorite — the gold bars in Fort Knox are not actually gold at all but gold-plated tungsten.

What is tungsten? Probably something awesome.

“Because the government has for so long refused to provide substantive information on its gold holdings,” Paul said, “it is no surprise that so much confusion abounds.”

How about going to visit Fort Knox for themselves? Subcommittee ranking member William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) suggested a road trip.

It’s a good idea, Paul agreed, but would not be enough to convince anyone.

The administration tried to assuage the committee’s fears.

“One hundred percent of the U.S. government’s gold reserves in the custody of the Mint has been inventoried and audited,” promised Eric Thorson, inspector general of the Treasury Department.

Uh-huh. Sure it has.

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