Laura Bush Knocks 'Plantation' Quip

U.S. first lady Laura Bush, center, sits with Afoma Adigwe and Hajia Bilkisu Yusuf of the Federation of Muslim Women Association in Abuja, Nigeria, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2006.
Laura Bush criticized Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday for suggesting that the Republican-controlled House is run like a plantation where dissenting voices are ignored.

"It think it's ridiculous — it's a ridiculous comment," Mrs. Bush told reporters when asked about the remark during a return flight to Washington following her four-day swing through West Africa.

Clinton made the comment in Harlem at an event honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. She said the GOP was running the House "like a plantation" because ideas from the minority Democrats were not respected. The White House on Tuesday called the senator's comments "way out of line."

Clinton also blasted the Bush administration as "one of the worst" in U.S. history and offered an apology to a group of Hurricane Katrina survivors "on behalf of a government that left you behind, that turned its back on you."

Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday defended Sen. Hillary Clinton for describing the House of Representatives as a "plantation," saying he felt her choice of words referred to a "consolidation of power" in Washington that squeezes out the voters.

The senator told CNN's "American Morning" he believed that Clinton was merely expressing concern that special interests play such a large role in writing legislation that "the ordinary voter and even members of Congress who aren't in the majority party don't have much input."

"There's been a consolidation of power by the Republican Congress and this White House in which, if you are the ordinary voter, you don't have access," Obama said. "... That should be a source of concern for all of us.

Clinton said Monday: "We have a culture of corruption; we have cronyism; we have incompetence. I predict to you that this administration will go down in history as one of the worst that has ever governed our country."

Mrs. Bush, who said her next trip likely will be to New Orleans to visit schools damaged in the hurricane, also reacted to a comment by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin that stirred controversy. Nagin had said: "This city will be chocolate at the end of the day." He later apologized.