Why bother going the tough route when it makes no difference at the end of the day?
It does make a difference. It's very unlikely that there will be a job where they ask you if you have a PhD, and when you say yes, tick that checkbox, move on and never mention it again.
A PhD is the single biggest unit of research experience for most young researchers (for older ones, usually their recent publications are much more relevant than their PhD). Therefore, if you apply to any job (academic or industry) where the PhD is a relevant qualification, you will be expected to discuss your thesis work at length. The employer will then judge the quality of your work, and based on that they will decide whether they will hire you over all the other PhDs. Of course, some employers are incompetent, and are influenced by the "brand" (whether you got your PhD from a famous place/advisor), but that's another matter.
So, no, if you slack off and get an "easy" PhD, it will not impress anyone who matters.
I was surprised to find out that there are no set standards for a PhD in research.
This is because such standards are unnecessary. Advisors are senior scientists who know well that if they let a student they supervise graduate with a garbage PhD, it will hurt their reputation when one day someone says "Wow, what a horrible thesis! Who supervised this?". So advisors will naturally try to make theses as good as possible.
unless there are careers out there outside of academia, that specifically asks you, what type of PhD do you have
Indeed, there are many careers where they would ask all sorts of details about your PhD (as I've also remarked above), both in the industry and academia, assuming it's relevant - Wall Street, for instance, has a habit of sometimes hiring people based on the fact that they have a PhD (in a quantitative field) alone without caring much about what the thesis is about.
Consider that usually, hiring a PhD is pretty expensive - even postdocs make about $50k annual, and in the industry it goes to $60k-120k. Why would anyone pay that much money for a PhD holder, and not even bother to ask the details of their PhD?