Does Rosemary Barbour's American dream need a wake-up call?

Last spring, the Bush campaign team tapped Barbour, a 37-year-old born and raised in Guatemala, to woo Mississippi Hispanics to the Republican Party -- on account of her "background and loyalty to the GOP," the local Clarion-Ledger said in May 2004.

Barbour, Mississippi governor and former GOP chairman Haley Barbour's niece by marriage, was named to a re-election committee headed by the president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Close Republican ties like these, and many others, have now come under fire after her Mississippi-based firm, Alcatec, which installs and services showers and washing machines, garnered $6.4 million in federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts -- the seventh highest in the state.

True, as a minority owned enterprise, Alcatec is SBA certified as a disadvantaged small business, which the administration has pledged to help. And recovery workers have more than earned a hot shower and clean clothes now and then.

But were the contracts based on merit? Barbour, a Republican National Convention delegate in 2004, tells the New York Times: "We are just a normal business trying to build my American dream."

Normal business? You'd hope the feds would reserve multi-million contracts for 'extraordinary' businesses.