A few days before Bill Clinton left the presidency, I asked him if he felt the best part of his life was over.

"Oh, no," he said. "There's never been a part of my life in which I have not been absorbed, interested and found something useful to do."

Looking back, what I should've asked is whether the best-compensated part of his life was about to begin.

The answer to that is an undeniable "you bet."

A front-page story in today's Washington Post gives us a look at just how financially rewarding being a former president can be.

The article by John Solomon and Matthew Mosk reports that since leaving office six years ago, Bill Clinton has taken in nearly $40-million in speaking fees at home and abroad.

Forty million dollars!

That's 25-times the total salary he earned during eight years as President.

The Post reports that Mr. Clinton earns a six-figure fee for most of his speaking engagements, but it's negotiable.

He got $150,000 for a speech in Estonia; $183,333 for remarks in Poland; $200,000 for an address in Belgium; $250,000 for an appearance in Portugal and $300,000 for his thoughts in Saudi Arabia.

Before he left office, Mr. Clinton had a feeling that being an ex-president would be profitable.

"For the first time in my life, I will be able to earn a sizable income," he told the congregation at Foundry United Methodist Church, during his final days in office.

His ability to bring home the bacon was clearly on his mind.

"I now have a United States Senator to support and a daughter to finish educating, so I'm going to go out and make a living," he told an interviewer as the end of his presidency neared.

Certainly, the pressure was on. He left office with legal debts estimated at $12-million dollars accrued by the lawyers who defended him in the Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky and impeachment matters.

The reason we know how much Bill Clinton has been making, is that his earnings had to be reported as part of Sen. Hillary Clinton's annual financial disclosure report.

Other past presidents have made big money too, but they didn't have to disclose it.

In addition to the millions he made for himself, the Post reports Mr. Clinton made millions more for his non-profit charity, the William J. Clinton Foundation.

That group does not disclose how much its namesake brings in, but its annual operating budget is reported to be $60-million.

So it turns out Bill Clinton had nothing to worry about as he faced life in the private sector.

He once told reporters, "I expect to make a living."

Rack up another understatement on the Bill Clinton scoreboard.

  • Mark Knoller On Twitter»

    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.