I see everyone is defending their lenses admirably. Unfortunately, no one has asked what camera Janet uses. Personally, I have an Nikon F4s and also shoot with D70. For me, the 24-85 was logical, because it has a apperature ring, so I can use it on the F4s in aperature priority. The 24-120VR is a G lens, which means it lacks that, and so would be only usefull to the newer cameras that allow you to adjust aperature through the camera in aperature priority. The 24-85 is a very sharp lens that has a better bokeh than the 24-120. It has 9 blade diaphragm which makes for a more natural out of focus elements.
On the other hand, for about the same amount of investment, you could get a 35-70D f2.8 lens that keeps the f2.8 throughout the zoom range, but it is an older and heaver lens.
It really boils down to which camera you have. If digital, you are multiplying the focal length by 1.5x.
In defense of the 24-120, It serves a wider need, and I will acknowledge that I do plan to purchase this lens for use in daylight on my D70. This is exactly why Nikon has so many lenses in production than on the outset seem to be so simillar. They all are targetted to a specific need. By the way, all the above 3 lenses are priced within a few dollars of each other.
So questions should be:
What camera will I use it on?
Will I be shooting in low light?
Do I want a specific lens fo a specific purpose an carying around many lenses is not a problem?
Do I want one lens to take care of most needs and I like to travel/photograph light?
Only after you ask such questions can you make the right decision.
Hope I haven't made matters worse.