Follow-up Comment #2, bug #16380 (project freeciv):
According to the The GNU Coding Standards, I think, the generated files are
not to be deleted by distclean, but by maintainerclean.
Quote from the standards:
Delete almost everything that can be reconstructed with this Makefile.
This typically includes everything deleted by distclean, plus more: C source
files produced by Bison, tags tables, Info files, and so on.
You may need special tools to reconstruct some of the files that ‘make
Thus no configure check for python would be neccessary.
Here's a patch along those lines.
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