well, obviously if he has no internet gentoo is not going to be a good idea.
Why don't you have internet??? I feel for you man....about a year and a half ago our phone was cut off for 8 months. Luckily my girlfriend had cable and i had the keys to her house so was practically living there...but at home it sucked, decided to try linux to cure my bordem at home but since didn't have any net gave up. In december is when i decided to try again.
What I would recommend for you would be to get slackware 9. Out of the box it pretty much has everything and with slack you will never have a rpm problem because there are no rpms. Pop that sucker in and you will have the latest kde, gnome, gcc, etc. Plenty to get started, there are loads of docs to help you. I actually think slackware is easier than a rpm based distro. Installing stuff from source is better IMO. Also, using a older distro is going to be harder since all the newest programs are based on newer stuff, so if you install a new distro you will have all the lastest libraries and stuff.