If I was starting out again with Linux and I knew what I know now, I'd find the latest version of Mandrake. It's the easiest to setup and run. Do yourself a BIG favor and get a really good book on whatever version of Mandrake you get. It WILL come in handy.
I personally run Red Hat 6.1 (Red Hat is up to version 7 now) and I love it. But trust me, I can't say it enough, Mandrake will go a long way in getting you started off on the right foot with Linux.
Don't go cheap, buy a version with some apps in it such as Star Office, etc.
When you get Linux up and running, visit sites such as http://www.rpmfind.org/
(maybe .org). This will get you started on downloading free software. There are MANY more sites out there with software, too!
Good luck! I know you will enjoy Linux. It has a steep learning curve, but it's not impossible. I've been running it for 2 years and there's still much to learn.
Oh, by the way, you'll have to get used to looking for your own answers. And if you want to email me with a Linux question, feel free.