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hmmm...This kind of problem usually is due to cam shaft/valve timing issues. Sometimes, the cam shaft is not properly positioned and is not in sync with the distributor thus the exhaust valves open early releasing unburnt fuel. This will cause the engine to definitely run bad.
I suggest that you try to adjust your engine's timing first (cam and distributor) and then see the results. Also, remember that there is a limit to the rpm that an engine must do- about 6,000rpm is enough for high or max hp. Another information, a camshaft will only work best at a given rpm range so if you run your engine too low or too high, the engine will not work properly. In fact, there are special cam shafts for engines intended to run at high rpm while sacrificing lower rpm levels (the engine runs grumpy at low rpm levels).
Worst case, however, is that white smoke sometimes indicates that oil enters your combustion chamber, this will cost an expensive rebuild if such is the fact.
when your engine went into that 5 second sputter, your computer or "PCM" did not get a constant signal from the crank or cam sensors that the engine was running. These two sensors tell the computer what RPM the engine is turning so it can adjust fuel and spark.
The transmission is this truck is a 4L60E. It is electronicly controled through several sensors. It will sense the load on the motor mainly through the TPS (throttle position sensor).It is not uncommon for you to have to really press the gas to make it down shift. Alot of the feeling depends on gear ratio in the rear end. The 4.3 is a very good engine, but it combined with a high gear rear end and overdrive may really seem under powered. You can put a programmer on it to change all the shift and power feel.If you are not having a hesitation issue then it will most likley not be the tps. You may just need a fuel and air filter, not knowing when it was last changed. The programmer is the best way to get the feeling you may be used to. Good Luck