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Champs visit president at suboptimal strength

With much of the team absent and their colorful and quotable manager on a family vacation, the 2005 World Series champion White Sox paid a visit Monday to the White House to be honored by President Bush.

Bush, a former Rangers co-owner, showered the team with praise, thanked owner Jerry Reinsdorf for helping him get into ownership years ago and saluted manager Ozzie Guillen for his skill and for becoming a U.S. citizen.

He also kidded some of Illinois' politicians, including Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate and a frequent critic of the Bush administration.

"Were you White Sox fans at the beginning of the season?" he asked them with a smile.

Bush, with 17 current or former Sox players and the World Series trophy behind him, recalled to the packed East Room audience that Woodrow Wilson was president the last time the Sox won the Series in 1917.

"After 88 years of waiting, the White Sox have earned the right to be called world champs," he said to loud applause that included the claps of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Illinois senators Durbin and Barack Obama and several congressmen.

Though Daley had questioned Guillen's decision not to join the Sox at the White House, Bush said he had no problem with the Venezuela native. "I understand Ozzie is on vacation, which I fully understand," Bush said.