Dear Aunt TUAW,
The hard drive in my late 2006 black MacBook died this week. I purchased a new hard drive for it, used my OS X 10.6 install CD and then updated.
I then went to the Mac App Store and found I can no longer download Lion, even with trying to hold the Option key down.
What can I do other then buy the US$69 USB key?
Your loving nephew,
Update: The Lion installer has made a re-appearance in the Purchases tab, so it may be worth trying to download it one more time.
Auntie gathers you didn't make a USB install drive from your original installer, yes? As for Apple's USB installer, Auntie's afraid that's no longer available. It must have been removed from shelves when Lion disappeared from the Mac App Store.
Pity. She thinks you should head on over to an Apple Store Genius Bar and throw yourself and your MacBook on their mercy. You shouldn't have to pay $69 for a copy of the installer software that you already paid for. Since you did already pay, if you have any friends with copies of the installer, you're probably on reasonable moral grounds to re-install that way as well.
Not near an Apple store? You can also try calling Apple Support, although that's generally better to do if you have Apple Care.
Mind you this is Auntie's own opinion. And Auntie has a lot of opinions. Like Teen Wolf. It should be on every night, and go for 52 weeks of the year. All Teen Wolf, all the time. And Werthers should sponsor "Dear Aunt TUAW", providing the TUAW staffers with free candies and back massages. See? These opinions are not entirely based in any reality, so check with Apple about your options.
In any case, Auntie wishes you an easy upgrade and a quick return to Lion health.