treatment, I'm a newbie at Linux, not Windows or DOS (command lines don't scare me)
I went with Mandrake two months ago as my newbie install. I'm a seasoned (1986-) Wintel user as well.
It's got a huge number of packages bundled (3 full CD's worth). Go nuts or only install a few. I went nuts and was mucking around with the system for a full 12 hours playing with all the toys, GUI's, applications, etc. It's fun.
If I had to do an install in front of my systems team at work, I would not want to present such a huge variety of options. I'd want to show them a far more slimmed down distro like NetBSD, FreeBSD, Lycoris or Debian.
If you chose any modern distribution now, you're going to be pleasantly surprised. Everything works well (that I've tried) and there are copious amounts of help out there on the Web and on the major IRC networks.
If you've seen systems evolve over the past decade or two like I have, you're going to be pleasantly surprised at the depth of what GNU/Linux is today. It's really, really good.