CORNISH, N.H. (AP) _ When Vice President Al Gore paddled a canoe along the Connecticut River for a photo opportunity, he had some help staying afloat.

Utility officials, saying they were acting on a request by the Secret Service and the Connecticut River Joint Commission, opened a dam and released about 4 billion gallons to raise the level of the river so Gore's canoe wouldn't get stuck in low water during a campaign visit Thursday.

The Washington Times, which reported details of the water discharge Friday, quoted a disgruntled state official who suggested that the presidential candidate received special treatment.

``They won't release water for the fish when we ask them to, but somehow they find themselves able to release it for a politician,'' said John Kassel, director of the Vermont Department of Natural Resources, according to the Times.

But Kassel, who accompained Gore on the canoe trip, said Friday that the quotes were not accurate.

``We think it was absolutely appropriate to release those flows,'' Kassel said.

Deputy managing editor Fran Coombs said The Times stood by the story ``as written and reported.''

Gore spokesman Chris Lehane said no one on Gore's campaign staff asked for the water to be released.