Remember that a geosynchronous satellte must orbit the equator.

Let's say for the sake of argument it's over mexico, you're in New

York, and the downlink station is in San Diego. The 36,000 is the

distance straight "down" to mexico, It's probably more like 50,000

to New York, and 45,000 to San Diego.

The radius of the earth is about 6400km. Geostationary orbit is, as

you note, 36000km above the equator. The path from the satellite to

the North Pole is the hypotenuse of a right triangle with legs of

6400km and (6400+36000)km. That gives a distance from the North Pole

to the satellite of 43000km. It's reasonable to conclude that the

distance from either New York or San Diego is less than that.

-- Brett