I never really brought this story to a close.
I installed the parts I ordered and it made a huge difference, but it still didn't solve the problem. I was having some other work done on the truck at the local Technical College and the instructor told me "Oh, by the way, your steering wheel sucks!"
Yeah. I know...
He said "we can take care of that for you" I thought to myself of course you can. But in reality they do good work and their rates can't be beat. So I let them work on the steering column. It turns out that the shaft needed to be replaced. It was so bad that it would have been a waste of time to install any more new parts.
So, at the end of the day I spent a little more than I wanted to, but now I have a nice, tight steering situation again. I even went out and bought a new steering wheel cover at Bi-Mart to celebrate the occasion.