Whorf, this is going to be a long response, so I'll break it up into two parts. The first being with regard to First Contact, and the second being in response to S31. And I don't have a grasp on the quotes yet either. That was actually why my last post was skewed. Onwards...
On point 2a you state, "We could assume... the time between the flight of the Phoenix and the meeting with the Vulcans was days and maybe even WEEKS." This assumption would be inaccurate. In fact, the entire time spent in the 22nd Century occurs over 24 hours +/-, and we have a time frame as the movie progresses. Shortly after the destruction of the Borg Sphere, we get the following dialogue:
Picard: The date? Mister Data, I need to know the exact date.
Data: April 4th, 2063.
Picard: April 4th?
Riker: The day before First Contact.
Then later in the missile silo just after Crusher beams out with Lily, Picard states, "We have less than 14 hours before this ship has to be launched." This places the film sometime after 9 p.m. on April 4th. There are numerous other references to time, but I'll skip to Picard's Log entry at the end of the film: "Captain's Log, April the 5th, 2063. The flight of the Phoenix was a success... again. The alien ship detected the warp signature and is on its way to rendezvous with history." The beginning of the film establishes April 5th to be the day of First Contact, which is reasserted by VGR's "Year of Hell". Therefore, the bulk of the movie (minus the 24th century) takes places within a 24-hour period. Furthermore, the Vulcans landed in Montana within 12 hours of the Phoenix's flight, given the landing at night.
The escape pods were launched before 11:10 a.m. on April the 5th, as deducted from Riker's time estimates throughout the film. Therefore, Picard had roughly 6 to 11 hours to retrieve the escape pods before the Vulcans landed. I'm having a temporary brain fart on the episode's name, but VGR had the ability of beaming an entire shuttlecraft into the shuttlebay. The Enterpise E is superior to Voyager, so it would have this same ability. Retrieving the escape pods via the transporter would be a non-issue and expediant.
Returning to the issue of lunar orbit, you are correct in pointing out the moon's gravitational influence over earth and potential impact on the Enterprise. However, this does not negate the possibility of the Enterprise leaving earth orbit for lunar orbit in preparation of the Vulcan's approach. It has further been established that shutting down all power and hanging over a planet's magnetic poles can confuse an opponent's sensors ("Peak Performance" ,TNG). This could have easily been done and referenced, thereby negating any reference to the moon. But instead, Worf's comment suggests the moon as the central body for interference, not earth.
I completely agree that the Enterprise was in earth orbit when La Forge centered Cochrane's telescope upon it. I only contend the Enterprise could have left earth orbit sometime after the Phoenix's Warp Flight and the retrieval of the escape pods, but before the Vulcan's approach to earth. I also agree that the lunar orbit is too far out of transporter range, which has been established to be 40,000 km and noted in my last post. However, if full impulse is 1/4th light speed per the Encyclopedia's Comparative Speed Scale, then the Enterprise can travel from the moon to earth in as little as 5.38 sec. The Enterprise could slide in, beam their people out, and be back at the moon in 14 sec, 30 sec when accounting for human lag time.
Lily watching the vortex means nothing other than the Vortex was very bright. It is true the Enterprise could be seen, but only as a pinpoint of light. The international Space Station is 51 meters in lengt, and maintains an orbital altitude between 278 km and 460 km. The space station is 40 km shy of being in the exosphere, and though it appears as a pinpoint of light, can be seen from earth. The Enterprise E is almost 700 meters long, over 13x as large as the space station. I don't thinking it would have to be in orbit to see it as a pinpoint of light. I think Geordi used the telescope to offer Cochrane more detail when, specfically to show it wasn't a satellite or aircraft, when it was definitively in orbit.