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So here's what I've learned:
Enabling the perf counters through the app.config causes the service (wcf self hosting windows service) not to start. There is no useful information in the event log for this failure. The mere existence of the empty <oracle.dataaccess.client> tags within the <configuration> tags causes this failure. I don't know why, but that led me back to the registry route.
The registry path in the doc is only valid for 32 bit operating systems. For Windows Server 2003 x64 with this version of ODP.net, the path is:
Update the value in the right place, and it all works!