"something easy to start out with" and "learn linux to its full potential" seem almost oxymoronic, although I wouldn't call them impossible.
To learn linux to its full potential many linux users, including to some degree myself swear by Gentoo. Once during the installation it makes you feel like putting a gun to your head, the job has been done, quite successfuly at that. Gentoo is difficult, but once you have it going it will be like a rock and very friendly. Not to mention gentoo probably has the best documentation and most active user forums of any distribution (except for possibly Ubuntu).
To take the easy way out, yes, PCLInuxOS is great, used it myself for a little while. The downside is that until .93 (full not minime) comes out .92 is not really "bleeding edge" and in fact actually down right missing some very IMPORTANT linux developments that have taken place in the last 1/2 year, most notibly modular xorg7 (which also is required to install xgl / compiz, which is quite nice), Some of my other recommendations from this ballpark are Ubuntu Dapper , Mandriva 2006, Kannotix, and Zenwalk.
To get a happy blend of the 2, that is a learning experience and a pretty easy setup, I would recommend my current choice, Arch Gimmick. You start out by installing a base system, connecting to the network, and then using their package manager, pacman to install everything else. Its very flexible since after installing xorg, you get to pick which WM you want be it KDE, Gnome, XFCE, e17, Windowmaker, Fluxbox, or IceWM. You also then go on to installing the programs you want for office (openoffice or koffice or gnome-office or abiworld), to internet programs (gaim or kopete, thunderbird, evolution, or kmail, firefox, epiphany, opera or konqueror) to media players (xine, xmms, mplayer, etc) and so forth....bottom line.. you build your own system! Furhtermore, its i686 optimized so it will be fast (not quite where gentoo is, but much faster than ubuntu which is i386)