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A crutch catches, a cuff rips, vice president falls

The Secret Service is supposed to be about protection, but you couldn't prove it by Al Gore this week.

The vice president, who has been hobbling for weeks with a basketball injury, took a spill Monday when one of his crutches got caught in a Secret Service agent's pants cuff.

As agents rushed to his aid, Gore bounced up, unhurt.

"I'm all right. I just put my crutch into a pant leg," he told startled onlookers.

The unidentified agent also appeared unhurt, though his cuff was ripped.

Gore had just emerged from the Frisby Airborne Hydraulics factory where he and Gov. Mario Cuomo had joined in the ceremonial signing of a loan deal to help the Long Island-based aerospace firm diversify into non-military business.