Obviously no one cares, but I submitted a bug report to Apple about Recovery Assistant. I believe what is happening is that in 10.8.2, Recovery Assistant is creating a hidden partition on the flash drive in the same way that Mountain Lion Install creates a hidden Recovery partition on the boot drive. So I now have a Terminal command to add Debug to Disk Utility, and Debug has a Reveal tool. Tune in tomorrow.
After a couple of failures and some permissions repairs and single user mode fsck -fy reboots, Recovery Assistant finally created a hidden partition Recovery booter on a flash drive. So, solved, I guess.
Does it fix any of the ongoing problems with Photoshop?