I managed to get OJS installed this afternoon. I deleted everything and started over, and the smarty compiler parsed the templates with no problems. I did have to use my edited version of the fc-locale-en_US.php because it was still being generated with invalid strings, but once I did that the install form loaded.
Running the install script properly created the database tables and populated them, but when it wrote out the new config.inc.php, the database password was in quotes. Because of this, anything I tried to do failed with a DB error. Once I figured out what happened and removed the quotes, everything worked again.
Now obviously I'm am going to encounter more errors any time a file is generated by OJS. I would like to track down the root cause for all of these problems (which you have suggested could be a bad var_export function) so this will stop. The only var_export bug I've found online seems unrelated, and it seems likely that people have run OJS before on my version of php, so it there anything else that would cause these problems? Or is there a way I can test my var_export to see whether or not it is the problem? If it is var_export I think it's probably due to some factor other than my version of php, so are there some settings somewhere that might help?
Perhaps I should be asking this stuff in a php support forum, but I figured I would check here first.