I'd download a live CD of linux to test the video. Then you know for sure it wasn't just a windows thing. Ubuntu is a good option but any of them will work since all you're trying to do is verify that the PC operates normally. Once you verify that you can start the windows troubleshooting if it is still failing to show a display.
beeps yes.. no post screen....everything appears to be working... expect nothing is showing on the monitor.
my friend said that this computer is working on his dell monitor. is it possible that the machine was designed to only work with that specific monitor? he is going to be bringing over the monitor to check.
Maybe it really is the graphics card. Get some cheap PCI card like you said from your local BestBuy or PC store like an Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 lol, it may work then. Unless if theres more excessive dust pile up in the PCI slot(s) XD
Maybe the PSU? It may be going weak and soon to die out, due to the possible give up on the screen when video is trying to be displayed.
The machine IS a dinosaur, and is likely overdue for the tar pit. Those old Dells often experienced the bad capacitor problem, either on their motherboards or in their PSUs. Google "bad capacitors" to get some images of what they look like; typically visible bulges and/or leaks.
If your friend assures you it was working recently, perhaps the blow job was a little too vigorous. Disconnect and reseat everything in case something loosened. A "cheap" video card bought at retail will probably amount to $40-$60; money better contributed toward the less-than-$400 (including OS) that will be needed to build a replacement that will run rings around this one.
Hmmm problem solved, evidently my blow job wasn't vigorous enough after all.. i removed the stock fan and housing completely from the unit and really jetted out the area where the motherboard connects to the vga port.... (dust cloud.... cough cough) and now its booting. must have been some sort of short.
regardless. thank you for the help everyone.
ko888 gets the best answer as he took the time to help my goofy self twice...