Though I have not used the CS4 suite Help files, I feel your pain. I am finding that each generation and iteration of Help files (not just Adobe here) gets more convoluted, and as you say, "less helpful."
With the Seach features in document types, like PDF, getting more refined, I find that on-line Help is stumbling badly. [Kinda' like the Search on the new fora - let's just HOPE that it's a "work in progress... "]
Soon, the manuals (if there ARE manuals) will be one page with one block of text on that page, "See the Help files!" Yeah, like that is actually going to "help." That is what your post is all about.
Just from reading your article, I completely understand, and I do not even need to experience it firsthand. That will come, and maybe by then you'll post of a way out of the morass.
When you click on Premiere Pro Help (web) you come to the page Using Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, check the box in the right upper corner for This Help System Only and at the bottom of the page you can set your preferences.
That sounds like a good answer. Hope that it helps Harry - and others.