But then, I'm not sure if patches are even that important. Instead maybe it makes sense to create a package that doesn't include the data, but fetches it on installation. You could just distribute a zip file with one member (setup.py) that used urllib or svn to fetch the installation. But, well, the more appropriate way to do this would be to use easy_install's functions for downloading and unpacking.
But... does that mean that the setup.py has the location hardcoded of the non-distutil package it is installing? That's a little annoying.
I dunno... I haven't thought this through, but this is what I'm thinking at the moment. (I happen to be deploying some software today, and using easy_install a little, and thinking about how I can use it more)