REPUBLICAN Speaker of the House JOHN BOEHNER is battling a severe drinking problem, breaking down in tears after too many glasses of wine – and often showing up for work under the influence, sources say.

There’s even a Web site called DrunkBoehner, chronicling his shocking booze escapades!

Many claim Boehner, a prime target of angry Americans bitter over his role in shutting down the federal government, is a hard partier whose dependence on the bottle is clouding his brain and interfering with his ability to do his job! “Boehner needs to sober up or go home,” one Internet poster wrote early this year.

“Personally, I wouldn’t care about Boehner’s drinking if he were just a congressman. But he’s third in line for the presidency and he’s blotto half the time.”

Wayne Madsen, a former naval officer and National Security Administration official who writes the investigative Wayne

Madsen Report, said that it’s well known in D.C. circles that the Ohio politician “likes his booze.”

Madsen says when Democrat Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House, she banned smoking in many buildings, including the Capitol Hill Club, which is a favorite GOP hangout.

So Boehner, who was House Minority Leader at the time, went to the Democratic Club, which was a holdout from the no-smoking rule, and wound up drinking with his political enemies just so he could smoke!

“Democrats loved it because they got the Minority Leader there at the bar, so it was good for them in some cases, especially the drunker he got!” says Madsen.

“He used to be a whiskey man, but the latest I heard is he’s a Merlot wine drinker. I’ve seen him on TV where I know he’s got a wine hangover.”

Madsen says he wouldn’t be surprised if Boehner, the 63-year-old son of a tavern owner, was pounding down drinks while trying to please the White House AND hardline House conservatives during the shutdown.

“When he’s under pressure he drinks more, is what I’ve heard,” Madsen divulged.

He adds Boehner’s well-known trait of weeping under stress is also a sign of his boozing.

Says Madsen, “I think it affects his performance as Speaker. I’ve heard people in the White House say ‘We tried to negotiate with him.’ And even some Republicans in the Senate say they can’t work with him because he’s nowhere to be found. He’s off getting sloshed somewhere!”

Former Ohio congressman Bob Ney cranks the criticism up a notch, claiming Boehner “is a party animal who would rather drink than govern.”

Sources claim Boehner didn’t lay off the sauce, even as the country was heading for disaster.

During the government shutdown, the web site Capitol Hill Blue reported “sources close to” Boehner revealed “the smell of alcohol is far more prevalent on him.”

And it quoted a congressional aide as saying, “This is Boehner on his last legs. The continuing capitulation, rambling rhetoric and attempts to drown his ineptitude in a bottle are taking their toll.”