If you’re getting a Canon:
The Rebel XT is nice, although the grip is too small even for my small hands. There’s a replacement, the Rebel XTi; however, the grip is still too small, and there may be reduced battery life and low light noise over its predecessor, which isn’t the way it usually goes at Canon.
If you’ll get a Canon, I suggest the 20D (if you can find one) if you won’t be shooting multiple FPS and/or don’t mind the small-ish LCD or lack of spot metering. Otherwise get the 30D. Both provide a really good ergonomic grip over the recent Digital Rebel models. If you’re on a budget, I strongly suggest getting the classic Rebel XT over the new XTi once that Rebel XTi is released to camera stores (around late September); you’ll save yourself some serious money (and hassles).
Get all equpment at a reputable retailer; that way, you won’t be ripped off by unscrupulous people. For example, all Canon L lenses come included with a lens hood and soft pouch; evil retailers will try to sell those as optional extras. Some vendors won’t sell you a camera with a US warranty. Good retailers include Amazon.com and (for the DC area) Penn Camera. In NYC, I think that B&H is good as well.
And don’t forget good glass. If you can afford it, get the Canon 17-40L lens. Expensive, but worth it, and it’ll be compatible with a Canon film camera or 5D or whatever comes out, if you ever get one.
Oh, and if you’re getting a Nikon, there should be some good discounts on the D70s right now, and the D80 looks good (though there may be high ISO noise issues with both, which don’t apply with Canon, except possibly with the XTi).