Usually I'd suggest you go to Ubuntu LTS releases for the ease of use and upgrades.
For configure and forget - you want Slackware, Gentoo, or the stable release of Debian.
The caveat is that the machine must be 100% supported by free software drivers. That fixes most of your rant and, as you point out, vendors would do well to take note. Linux keeps getting the blame for vendor failures.
It is sad and frustrating, but not our fault, and there is nothing more we can do about it
We need longer lifespans with the versions. A version should last longer than the average computer. Even Windoze users often use the same version of windoze the entire lifespan of the computer. Why should Linux users now suffer?
The average computer is guaranteed for less than 3 years. People run their computers longer against manufacturer recommendations.
2-years seems to be what everyone is settling on as reasonable, even MySQL is abandoning the 5-year release cycle. Usually there is an extra year or so of support at the end. But 5 years is more common for the server. (Though I know servers still running RH9 - so it happens.)
The reason for this is the different development paradigms of free software vs proprietary. The development of free software is typically very fast - so the condition which requires a full new release arrives sooner. (The windows equiv would be the service patch level - in linux XP SP2 would be a different release to XP SP1).
A commitment to security usually means that updates are daily occurences, as opposed to monthly on other systems where convenience is considered more important.
Offset against the inconvenience of these updates, the free software world offers:
rapid bug fixes
participation in the development process
flexability in managing the updates
ownership of the software
low to zero acquisition and upgrade price
software that respects your freedoms
I'm sure others can add to this.
Note that debian has famously had a very long release cycle - I think it was three years from woody (2002) to Sarge (2005) - which was criticized.
Probably the best option for a user like yourself is to either manage the upgrades so they are not onerous or use a set-and-forget distro and manage the security implications.
A long release cycle is not going to give you what you say you want.