The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Britney: Bad Diva. Bad Parent?

It might seem like I’m jumping on the “Bash Britney Bandwagon” here, but I think the reference is valid and the point relevant. Or at least I did when I was standing in line at the grocery store a couple of days ago. And, no, I’m not talking about her VMA performance. (But, as long as we’re on the subject, that’s not something any real diva would ever have done. Can you imagine Madonna doing that? Never. Way too much of a control freak.)

I know I called a moratorium on Britney jokes, because girlfriend clearly has problems she need to work on, but I’m not so much poking fun as I’m still venting over the Maryland Court of Appeals gay marriage ruling, which effectively married the right to marry to the possibility of procreation. I’m remembering that Britney once got married as a joke.

And, by all accounts, her second marriage was a joke, but it produced two babies. That’s bottom-line criteria for marrying in Maryland. There’s got to be at least a possibility of sperm meeting egg for there to be even the possibility of a wedding license. Britney’s met more than met that requirement. But what’s happened after conception and delivery is what’s making news now.

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There was the car seat incident. (We couldn’t walk out of the hospital with either of our kids unless we proved that we had a car seat and the kid was seen in the car seat.) Car seats can be hard to install. I’m in charge of that in our family, and I wonder how much Brit would pay a car seat installer. (Scratch that. I have it from reliable sources that celebrities are, for the most part, better from a distance, and you don’t want to work for one.)

And I’ve changed my kids’ diapers in more places than I care to remember. But never in Victoria’s Secret (OK, I’ve never been in Victoria’s Secret), and I’ve never handed a cashier a dirty diaper.

Britney Spears stunned shoppers and staff at a Victoria’s Secret lingerie shop last week, when she changed her son’s diaper on the store’s dirty floor.

The singer was shopping in Mission Viejo, Calif., on June 4, where she purchased some pink g-string underwear with 8-month-old son Sean Preston in tow.

The tot needed to have his diaper changed and the 24-year-old plopped him down on the floor next to the cash register.

A shocked sales associate recalls, “We don’t have the cleanest floors. She just put him down and changed his diaper and then handed it to a sales clerk saying, ‘Can you throw this away for us?’

“We told her that we couldn’t put that in our trash.”

That sounds vaguely like something that happened to me during the summer I waited tables at Po’ Folks, between my freshman and sophomore year of college. I had very large party come in, including an infant. Not only did every other person in the party have a special order, but half of them sent items back to the kitchen after griping to me as if I’d actually cooked them. But what really took the cake was when they changed the baby’s diaper. At the table. On the table. Of course, they stiffed me on the tip. And left the baby diaper behind. Natch.

And how do you even think to take a 22-month-old to the dentist to get his teeth whitened?

Sources tell Us Weekly that Spears’ friends and family have become concerned about the pop star’s mothering skills.

Case in point: The tooth fairy may be making early visits to 22-month-old Sean. “He’s having dental problems because Britney just shoves a bottle of juice in his mouth all the time to stop him from crying,” a family insider tells Us.

Another source says that, in April, Spears “asked an L.A. dentist if he would whiten her kid’s teeth!” The dentist refused.

Then again, taking him to the dentist at least requires spending more than 10 minutes with the kid. (Though, honestly, I wouldn’t leave a kid alone with her for 1 minutes.

Spears reportedly wanted the Orlando Granny Nannies to be very hands-on — but not too good at what they did.

“One nanny told me that Britney will hold her kids for 10 minutes and then say, ‘I’m done now. You can take them,’ ” a source told the mag.

Said another: “She doesn’t like when Sean prefers the nanny, so she fires them and looks for a new one.”

And if there’s no nanny handy, you just hand them to whomever happens to be around, like your bodyguards.

He quickly found that protecting the singer was the least of his duties.

“I was surprised to find how much the job involved looking after her kids,” he says.

“She was always passing the kids along to us. If they were happy, she was happy. If they weren’t happy, she was passing them on to the nanny or the security staff.

“We were the only family around her. She’d call a doctor to come out if they cried too much.

“She’d say: ‘Can you grab the baby, honey?’ She always called me ‘baby’ or ‘honey’. I don’t think she ever learned my name.

“She’d tell me, ‘We’re going for a tan. Can you take the baby?’ And then she’d walk off. She wouldn’t really ask me; she’d just leave.”

…”She’s unpredictable. No one knows what she’ll do next. That’s what scared me. I don’t know what caused her screaming, whether it was drugs or mental instability. She’d be wailing, making no sense. It was worse at night.

“She’d scream and guards would run to check on her, just in case it was a snake or an intruder.

“I’d ask how she was, and she’d say, ‘I’m OK.’ Sometimes the baby was in the room when she screamed, and the guards would grab him.

“We had a security room beside the main house, with a couch and TV, and she’d frequently bring the kids in there to hang out with us.

“We’d say, ‘We’re not bodyguarding; we’re babysitting.’ But we were babysitting Britney, as well as her kids.

“There were times when she spent very little time with them, some days less than an hour. And she’s not very good at knowing whether they eat or need changing. I don’t think I ever saw her feed her kids at home.

“Once she took the kids to the dance studio and didn’t bring any food for them. She sent someone out to get them soup and crackers.

“She’d smoke around the house, and though she wouldn’t smoke in front of the children, her clothes absorbed the smoke and I’m sure that made the baby cry.

“In my opinion, it was a child taking care of children. I wouldn’t have her as a babysitter.

And if the bodyguard is telling if the truth even little, it’s worse than just rotting your kid’s teeth. Up to and including a near overdose.

Tony said: “We could see Britney all red-eyed from crying. Howie was lying in his boxers asleep on the bed. The hotel room was trashed.

“There were half-eaten plates of food everywhere. There were blankets all over the floor, clothes strewn everywhere. The trash was emptied everywhere over the floor.

“The entire place was littered with empty beer bottles and liquor bottles, small glasses of ice and cigarette butts everywhere.

“On the surface of the dresser, I could see mounds of white powder and a straw on top. I suspected it was cocaine or powdered methamphetamines.

“By the side I spotted a glass pipe, which I knew from my drugs training was often used with crystal meth.”

The drug has similar effects to amphetamine and ecstasy. Overdosing can cause heart failure.

Tony went on: “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Britney was completely out of it. We thought she’d overdosed. She was distraught, crying. Her skin was all waxy. She looked so ill. We tried to speak to her. My fellow bodyguard and Alli were so worried they wanted to get hold of a medic to detoxify her. We were panicking. We thought she was going to die.

“There was talk about where to put the detox line it was that serious—through her arm, which would make fans think she’d been injecting, or through her neck.

“It was very distressing. Eventually we decided to get her out of there. We grabbed her and took her downstairs. All the time all she could say was, ‘I don’t feel good’.

And, naturally, some of it spills over in front of the kids.

Most disturbing for dad-of-two Tony was her still being hung over by booze and drugs at home with the kids close by. “There were times when Britney appeared to be under the influence near them,” he said. “It was frightening.

“She has a whiskey stash in her pantry—and even if the children are close by, that doesn’t stop her drinking. After rehab she didn’t want people to see her boozing. So in clubs she’d have Jack Daniel’s and coke in polystyrene cups so it would look like coffee.”

Tony added: “I noticed that when she was under the influence of drugs at home, she behaved the same way as she’d done on drugs at the club.

Now, I’m not cataloging all of this to get down on Britney. But she’s been married twice and, despite the fact that I’ve had pairs of socks longer than she had either of her husbands, even her 55-hour-long marriage came with more benefits and protections than my seven-year marriage to my husband.

And according to the Maryland Court of Appeals, the fact that she managed to make two babies that she doesn’t much bother to take care of entitles her to those protections, but not the hubby and me. Even though we do a better job of taking care of children we didn’t conceive.

Know what I’m sayin’?