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One favorite tool is always the one they use and are most familiar with. There's a lot of subjectivity on this subject. I like Ubuntu because it works, 6 month cycle, great company/man behind it and great community supporting it. I also like that Ubuntu has the deal with Dell. I was a Suse user until 10.1 when they desided to release a version that wasn't fit for alpha. I don't mind a bit of tweaking but that was almost criminal. Being on Ubuntu since 6.04RC I've seen every release improve and even get faster.
Tongue-in-cheek (where's the smiley for that?) answer w/ more than a grain of truth:
Quit your job, sell your house, & move to Houston (tx usa). Join HAL-PC & HLUG, attend my Wednesday Linux Workshop, suck up to me enough that I will mentor you, & use MEPIS - 6, 6.5, or 7, your choice. If I don't like you, move to The Woodlands, repeat the process w/ Evan, & use Ubuntu. If that doesn't work, then you're off to Pasadena/South Houston to Russell & Debian/Gentoo/LFS.
My serious point here is that we tend to forget that direct, face-to-face human contact is still important even in the age of the 'Net. If you're lucky enough to have a local LUG, then join it. Then find a mentor -- someone you "click" w/ -- & use whatever s/he uses until you know enough to make an informed different choice.
I've been on both sides of this & it works.
(OT: FWIW, it works for skydiving too. )
I think this has pretty much run it's course. For every distro there is at least one person running it. Add to which, you have a multiple choice poll - you want everyone to pick the one best distro but you make choosing all of them legitimate.
There is no best. The best is the one you are happiest using. For an "official" take on it, head over to the member awards forum and see the poll results there.