I greatly enjoyed USAFNoDak's post, but I'd like to add one more little example of absurdity.
One of the primary items banned was magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Not necessarily the firearms that used them... the magazines themselves. This essentially swept up a bunch of firearms into the ban that most average non-gun-owners wouldn't identify as an "assault weapon"- namely many semi-automatic pistols.
Here's where the absurdity comes in. Manfacturers were required to make magazines that couldn't possibly accept more than 10 rounds, but they didn't have to change the firearm itself. Hence, semi-auto pistol makers started making magazines with a couple of large bumps stamped into the sides to prevent the remaining 1-7 "evil" rounds from being able to fit. (These magazines are actually still made for states that extended the AWB by state law.) However, most of these pistols could still accept higher-capacity magazines made before the ban. Some of these pistols had been sold for decades with higher-capacity magazines, so they were readily available on the street. New high-cap magazines were also available to law enforcement personnel to replace those that they "lost".
So, were the pistols "assault weapons"... or not? This exercise in lawmaking accomplished... what, exactly?