If you can't tell the difference between GET, POST and COOKIE you have bigger problems.
You complain about that but you suggest Node? Node is fine, but pulling out request variables requires you to parse through the headers and query string.
Further more, sanitizing DB inputs and making sure your logic doesn't suck isn't the worst thing you have to do. Mt.Gox went down because their API was stupid, not because of some fundamental flaw in PHP.
I don't know. php is the Gary busey of programming languages. Used to be kind of crazy. Still slightly temperamental, but getting better.
Personally, I just don't think there are bad languages to develop for. C# is nice, if you don't mind being strapped to IIS or Mono, Python and Ruby are clean and sane, PHP is wacky but gets the job done. Perl is old but dependable and still quite spry. I just don't get the language hate.