I'm running LMDE and my sudoers file only contained 3 real lines
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root ALL=(ALL) ALL
%sudo ALL=(ALL) ALL
Until reading your post I never looked at editing this file. I do not know why a reinstall would have ended up the same if you overwrote the previous install, unless this is correct for your install. I see from THIS
post it is possible to intentionally make your root password different from your user password. Also in that post, I notice his default sudoers is different than mine, I guess he must be using Isadora.
The file had a commented line saying to use visudo to edit it, I then checked synaptic and thought I learned that I do not have such an editor. Then reading the man pages for sudo and visudo I found that it is actually calling nano, which I do have.
OK, I see you have fixed the issue while I was trying to educate myself.