Supercilious Merriam Webster: 1) Coolly and patronizingly haughty; 2) The proud and unpleasant attitude of people who think that they are better or more important than other people.
It's what makes Bill Maher not likable, even if you agree with his politics; it's what makes Ted Cruz unelectable as President, regardless of his politics.
Bill Maher genuinely thinks he's right on everything. He thinks he is very important and deserves all that money that allowed him to donate $1 million to the Obama PAC, or to offer $1 million to Elizabeth Warren on TV. But guess what? He's not right all the time. And he's not always as funny or as understanding of the world as his smirk would suggest.
Ted Cruz's smirk comes from another place: he knows he's talking trash when he says global warming does not exist, or that we should abolish the Internal Revenue Service; but he thinks he's so good at spinning his yarn that truth or falsity don't matter. It's a smirk borne of a prankster's guilty conscience. He feels invincible because the Liberty University crowd doesn't notice or care, and he feels smug in his confidence that he can run circles around the San Francisco crowd that is driven crazy by what he says. And he's not entirely wrong. He was a debating champion at Princeton. But the smirk gives him away.
Interesting tidbit: Liberty University (VA), a Christian College founded by Jerry Falwell and where Cruz announced his run for the Presidency, forced students to attend the event under threat of $10 fines.